By Justin Patrick @calling_allfans on March 12, 2014
As we head into Selection Sunday (Mar. 16), conference tournaments are underway. The Big East Tournament tips off tonight (Mar. 12) at 7 p.m. as No. 8 Seton Hall takes on No. 9 Butler, followed by No. 7 Georgetown and No. 10 DePaul.
Here are 10 storylines to follow.
Butler finished the season 14-16 overall (4-14 in the Big East). They lost seven straight games before they won their last two games of the regular season. This is a far cry from when the Bulldogs went to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2010 and 2011, ultimately losing to Duke and UCONN.
Maybe they don't have the same talent, maybe it's injuries, or maybe they miss having Brad Stevens (who is now with the Boston Celtics) as their coach.
There are a myriad of excellent college basketball players this year. Just look at some of the Wooden Award finalists: Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas, Louisville’s Russ Smith, UCONN’s Shabazz Napier and Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair from Syracuse. That’s not even a complete list. I still feel McDermott is a cut above the rest.
The Hoyas went 17-13 overall (8-10) this season and are currently on the bubble. ESPN’s bracketologist currently has Georgetown listed as one of the Next Four Out. The Hoyas have not fared well in the NCAA Tournament recently (as a two seed they were upset by Florida Gulf Coast in the Round of 64 last year.) Seeing if the Hoyas can do enough to get into the Big Dance for a shot at redemption will be interesting.
Xavier finished the regular season 20-11 overall (10-8 in the Big East) and are the No. 3 seed in the Big East Tournament. The Musketeers will play the No. 6 seed Marquette Golden Eagles on Mar. 13. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has Xavier on the bubble, listed as one of the last four byes. A loss to Marquette would most likely mean no NCAA tournament for Xavier. How will The Musketeers respond once the Big East Tournament begins?
Both Providence and St. John’s went 20-11 overall (10-8 in the Big East). The PC Friars are the No. 4 seed and the St. John’s Red Storm are the No. 5 seed in the Big East tournament. Both are on the bubble according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi. These two teams square off at 2:30 p.m. on Mar. 13. I have to believe whoever loses this game will not receive an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. Set your DVR.
The Wildcats went 28-3 overall (16-2 in the Big East), and ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has them as the fourth No. 1 seed. Florida, Arizona and Wichita State are the other No. 1 seeds, but a fourth team hasn't really stepped up to grab the last spot. Will Villanova do what is needed in the Big East Tournament to solidify its position as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?
The Big East we have all known for years is no more. Pittsburgh and Syracuse left for the ACC, and the old Big East broke into two conferences. Cincinnati, Louisville and UCONN are now part of the American Conference while the Big East is currently constituted as follows: Villanova, Creighton, Providence, Xavier, St. John’s, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Butler and DePaul. It will fun to see what team wins the Big East this year.
The Big East tournament has become an event and it has provided some unbelievable moments. Do you remember the game between UCONN and Syracuse in 2009 that went to six overtimes? No UCONN, Louisville, Syracuse or Pittsburgh anymore. With all of the realignment, will it still be as fun, even if it’s slightly different? Watch and see.
Lunardi believes three teams from the Big East will make it to the big dance. Villanova and Creighton are definitely going to the NCAA tournament regardless of what they do in the Big East tournament. The Wildcats and Bluejays are only concerned about NCAA seeding. There are four teams on the bubble: Providence, Xavier, St. John’s and Georgetown. If Lunardi is correct, three Big East bubble teams will miss out on March Madness.
The answer is no. It can't be as strong after it lost the teams it did, but some strong performances in the Big East tournament and then in the NCAA tournament could go a long way towards getting college basketball fans to respect the Big East as they have for so many years.
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