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BECB Roundtable: The Final Week of Big East Play

We have entered the last week of the regular season.

Seton Hall v Xavier Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

So… uh, is Xavier about to win the Big East?

Sam Newberry: Certainly looks like it. Barring the whackiest of whacky occurrences (I mean, it is the Big East, so you can’t take those possibilities off the table), Xavier will dethrone Villanova. Not that I dislike ‘Nova, but it’s nice to see other teams stepping up to the challenge and competing for the league title instead of one team running rampant all season.

Kevin Urquhart: Looks like it. But beyond winning the conference, Xavier has convinced me (after putting Villanova #1 in the power rankings every week… except that one week I picked St John’s lol) that it truly is the best team in the league.

Brooks Conrad: Although they were not able to beat Villanova themselves, Xavier looks primed to win the Big East regular season title. While they have proved themselves all season long, including a win over Cincinnati before conference play, I still think Villanova is the best team in the league. To me, Xavier seems more prone to being upset in the Big East Tournament. But a Nova-Xavier championship matchup would be nice to determine who the best team really is.

Alex Sindelar: Damn right they are. The only team that has their number is Villanova, and, well…

Matt Ambrose: Yes they are. A one game lead with two games left. One game at home against an inconsistent Providence team, and the other in Chicago against lowly DePaul. Crazy things have happened in the Big East this season, but Xavier looks like they’re about to put an end to Villanova’s reign.

Andrew Padyk: Yeah this does appear to be happening. But there is still a chance that it does not take place, which would be funny turn of events. They have two games left to play against Providence and DePaul. The window for them to possibly bungle this is still kind of open. Will they? Well, my friend, that is left to be seen as I have never professed to being a soothsayer. It is nice to see someone else other than Villanova win the regular season crown for once though. It will be curious as to what Xavier does in the conference tournament.

Do you get the sense that two 1 seeds will come from this conference?

Sam Newberry: I think they should (and I might be Big East Coast Biased ((ba-dum tiss))) but I get the feeling the committee will find some way to put one of Villanova or Xavier on the 2 line. I don’t know how or why, but I just get that feeling. The committee will convince themselves that Michigan State or Purdue plays themselves back onto the one line or something.

Kevin Urquhart: I tend to agree with Sam. I think the committee will be averse to putting two Big East teams at the top line. However, if Xavier and Nova both advance to the championship of the conference tournament, I think they will both be one seeds.

Brooks Conrad: No chance. I think Virginia and one of either Michigan State or Purdue are locks. I see Kansas or Duke rising into a third spot, leaving one top seed left for either Xavier or Villanova. While Xavier will probably win the regular season, whoever does better or wins the Big East Tournament will likely grab a one seed.

Alex Sindelar: At this point, no. Villanova has been sliding a bit, but they’ve done enough to get into the Top 8. Xavier’s built themselves one helluva resume and they’ll secure themselves a top seed regardless of what they do in the BIG EAST Tournament presented by Jeep.

Matt Ambrose: Both Villanova and Xavier are worthy of one seeds, but it’s going to come down to which one, if any, win the Big East Tournament. Neither will fall below the two-seed line, but it’s just tough to see both teams maintaining one seeds come Selection Sunday.

Andrew Padyk: I’m generally indifferent if this does happen or not. While it is nice to have more than one 1 seed, I don’t think it will happen. Not because of the committee, but due to how the Big East Tournament will shake out. Both Villanova and Xavier are deserving of the 1 seed. But at the end of the day, whoever does win the conference tournament will most likely be the one who gets the 1 seed. That is, of course, if either or both get to the championship game. Because things can get interesting in this discussion if neither do. At the end of the day though I think the one seeds will be Virginia, Michigan State, either Villanova or Xavier, and Kansas. Though I personally do like the argument for Purdue. But that’s for another time.

Away from this… what the hell is going on in the middle of the conference? Who emerges from the four-pack of 9-7 teams?

Sam Newberry: Butler and Providence are the two I really like. Barring some weird things (PC losing to DePaul at home, Butler losing to Georgetown at home) I really like what they bring to the table. It’s hard to pick out of these 4, and I really don’t want to see any of them staring at me as an 8-10 seed in the tournament, but I think that Butler and Providence seemed the best equipped to handle whatever is thrown at them.

Kevin Urquhart: I think Butler is the best middle-of-the-pack team and the most dangerous in the postseason. With the exception of a strange loss to Georgetown, Butler has played very well over the last few weeks. The way the Dawgs manhandled both Providence and Creighton this last week demonstrate that Butler is currently on a higher level than the rest of the 9-7 teams. If Butler wins out by beating St John’s and Seton Hall, I THINK (I’ve done some pretty shaky calculations) they will get the third seed in the conference tourney – that’s assuming Providence loses at Xavier.

Brooks Conrad: I really like Butler. Maybe that is because (being a Marquette fan) I watched Butler crush Marquette twice (while Marquette has beat the other three teams). While Butler has some fluke losses, they have proven they can beat top teams (Villanova, Ohio State). I really liked Creighton before Krampelj went out, but the emergence of freshman center Jacob Epperson has caught my attention. If he continues to play better, Creighton could really push to win the Big East Tournament.

Alex Sindelar: Creighton. They’ve found their P&R partner in Epperson, giving them some rim pressure and forcing teams to respect it. The fact that he logged 23 minutes is a huge boon, and once they get The Spaceman back, they’ll have legitimate depth in the front court. The newfound emergence of Mitch Ballock will bolster them since he’s relatively fresh.

Matt Ambrose: Seton Hall is kicking it into high gear at just the right time. We’ve seen this story before: they start off great, go into a lull mid-season, then finish the season strong. The question mark is how healthy leading scorer Desi Rodriguez is. If he is healthy come Big East Tournament time, watch out for the Pirates.

Andrew Padyk: What if no one emerges and everything ends up in an attritional mess? Okay, now moving from posing that inquiry, I like the idea of Creighton breaking from this pack to be the true No. 3 team in the conference. They could easily win their final two games against DePaul and Marquette and from the way their game over the weekend played out, could easily be a tasty option for a threat against the top teams in the conference come tournament time.

Marquette, Georgetown, DePaul, St. John’s. Is this 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the Big East? Will we see these matchups on Wednesday night at the Big East Tournament? Or does something change?

Sam Newberry: (Cries into Johnny Walker Red at 10:45 in the morning) Yep, they are the 7-10. And as a Marquette alumni and fan, I do not want to see St. John’s in the Garden with the way they are playing right now. Sure, we beat them in Milwaukee, but I don’t like our chances in New York. We’ve already ruined our best chance at making the tournament, and I don’t like the idea of having to play our way in using the Big East Tournament. I think the way the standings are now are how they will stay. I don’t really see anything that convinces me otherwise as of right now.

Kevin Urquhart: I don’t see anything changing here. Of those four teams, I think Georgetown is the most likely to surprise in the tournament. Of course, you can never sleep on Marquette’s ability to knock down double-digit three-pointers on any given night.

Brooks Conrad: *Long Sigh* Marquette was so close to being included with teams in the previous question. They are clearly the best team in this group, with the chance to catch fire and make a run in the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles could just as easily, no, more easily lose in the first round regardless of who they play. St. John’s is also very dangerous. I don’t think any team in the Big East wants to play the Red Storm. As long as Shamorie Ponds is playing at an elite level, last place St. John’s can play with anyone.

Alex Sindelar: Marquette’s success is dependent upon whether Markus Howard can come back and be successful. I still like St. John’s and Shamorie Ponds, but losing to the Pirates at the Garden doesn’t do them any favors.

Matt Ambrose: These are the four teams that will be playing Wednesday night, but the order could change a bit. Marquette is locked into that seventh spot in my book, but don’t be surprised if there is some shuffling with the bottom three seeds between St. John’s Georgetown and DePaul.

Andrew Padyk: I think something will change between now and start of the Big East Tournament. As static as much of the conference has been in the standings, there has been quite a bit of movement at the bottom. All four teams, on their day, are exciting in their own right. I think that there will be some swapping before it is all said and done. I do think St. John’s and DePaul will switch matchups. Either way, someone come tournament time is going to have a bad time in facing one of these teams at the bottom.