March 7. One month and one day from now, the Big East Tournament will get underway from Madison Square Garden.
For some teams, it will serve as more chances to boost an already NCAA Tournament-worthy resume. For others, it will be their last chance to join the dance. Let’s take a look at where the 10 Big East teams stand with one month left in the regular season.
Butler Bulldogs- LOCK
Butler surpassed their preseason expectations? Who’da thunk? Their win over Ohio State in non-conference looks mighty fine right now, and they remain the only blemish on No. 1 Villanova’s resume. Things looked fluky after they dropped three straight after the Nova win, but they have proceeded to win five of their last six games since. Barring a collapse, they’re in.
Creighton Bluejays- LIKELY IN
I say likely in for one reason, that being they have to show they can play well without Martin Krampelj down low. Since he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Seton Hall back on January 17, the Bluejays are 2-2. Both of those wins came by single digits against St. John’s and Georgetown. Last Thursday, they got smoked by Villanova, and their other loss since the injury was a 14-point defeat to Providence. The committee will be looking at their body of work without their low post force, however even if it’s not the greatest, their resume from before should be enough to get them in.
DePaul Blue Demons- OUT
Unfortunately, Strusmania won’t be making an appearance in March. The highlight for DePaul this season will be that they won’t be in the basement of the standings thanks to St. John’s. They’re just playing for pride right now.
Georgetown Hoyas- OUT
Georgetown has surprised me this year, in that I seriously thought this team had a realistic chance of not winning a single Big East game this season. So far, they’ve won two, but they had to make some noise in conference play to have any shot at dancing this year.
Marquette Golden Eagles- ON THE BUBBLE
Marquette is clinging onto their tournament hopes by their fingernails. They’ve lost four straight and five of their last six. They don’t have a huge non-conference victory to hang their hat on. Making matters worse, their next three games are on the road (Seton Hall, St. John’s, Creighton). If they lose two of those three games, it’s time to kiss Marquette’s hopes goodbye.
Providence Friars- LIKELY IN
Providence should be able to get to 10 conference wins at least by the end of the regular season. Emphasis on should. They have two games remaining with Georgetown, and one left against both St. John’s and DePaul, with only one of those games being away from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. However, the Friars have been streaky this year, and right now they are in, but not by much. This is thanks in no small part to their disappointing non-conference performance. If they finish 10-8 in league play, they’ll be in, but anything less than that could be shaky.
St. John’s Red Storm- OUT
Nope. 0-11 in league play. Enough said. The Duke game was their National Championship, and they got the job done. A nice consolation prize in an otherwise dormant season.
Seton Hall Pirates- LOCK
This team was not a lock two weeks ago. They picked up their play and are playing with confidence once again. After two dominant wins over DePaul and Providence, they hung in there with Villanova for most of the game Sunday afternoon. We’ve seen this story before with this team: Good start, a rough stretch of about 3-4 games, and they pick it up down the stretch. The Pirates are 12-5 in the month of February over the last three seasons, including Sunday’s loss. This team looks poised for March.
Villanova Wildcats- LOCK
This is an easy one. In a college basketball season full of parity with no clear dominant team, Villanova remains the outlier. Their brand of basketball has run this league since realignment, and no one looks poised to stop them. Funny things can happen in March, but at this current moment, the Wildcats should be considered the National Title favorite.
Xavier Musketeers- LOCK
Xavier sits at 9-2 in conference play right now, but they just as easily could be 4-7. That’s the Big East. Close wins over Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Georgetown have given this team plenty of late game exposure. They know how to play in close games, and that is huge come March. However, can they do it against superior opponents from other conferences? Time will tell, and Xavier will have that chance in the tournament.