The 2014 edition of the Big East Tournament is set to begin Wednesday evening at Madison Square Garden. The four day event will put a bow on the conference's maiden voyage after a heavy dose of realignment changed the landscape of the conference for the foreseeable future.
While Villanova and Creighton are locks for the NCAA Tournament, several teams can get themselves onto the right side of the bubble with a strong showing in New York City. A couple will need to win it all if they want to go dancing.
(All odds below courtesy of teamrankings.com)
Picked fourth in the preseason poll, Jay Wright is now the odds-on favorite for Coach of the Year after leading 'Nova to the school's first Big East regular season championship since 1982 while setting records for wins in a season. They come to New York not having won the Big East Tournament since Kerry Kittles was named MVP in 1995.
James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard, Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart were all named to various All-Big East teams, and the Wildcats offense and defense are ranked among the best in the country. Other than a couple of no-shows against Creighton, it was a dream conference season for the Wildcats.
Previous titles: 1995
What they're playing for: More glory, and the chance at a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Odds: 84.55% to get to the semis, 63.21% to get to the finals, and 38.73% to win it all.
Doug McDermott is a lock for Big East Player of the Year, and rightfully so. Despite having the best player in the country, Creighton staggered down the stretch losing to Xavier and Georgetown, allowing Villanova to capture the conference crown despite having crushed the Wildcats twice this season.
Creighton's path to the crown could present some challenges with a quarterfinal date against Georgetown likely, while either Xavier or Marquette will be waiting in the semi's. Creighton could use revenge as motivation, but Villanova will be looking for redemption in the finals.
Previous titles: None
What they're playing for: Likely projecting as a 3 or 4 seed right now, the Bluejays could get as high as the 2-line if they cut the nets down in New York. Taking the tournament title would be a nice consolation after they essentially gave away the regular season title.
Odds: 76.53% to get to the semi's, 56.8% to get tot he finals, and 33.13% to win it all.
Picked 7th in the preseason poll, the Musketeers were impressive for long stretches in their first season in the league, with Semaj Christon landing on the All-Big East 1st Team en route to a third-place finish. Head coach Chris Mack has consistently stated how proud he is of his team handling the big jump in opposing talent.
Xavier is long and athletic, but consistency has been lacking for most of 2014. Gargantuan center Matt Stainbrook is recovering from an injury, and his health will be a major factor in how far the Musketeers can make it in New York, and whether they can make it to the NCAAs.
Previous titles: None
What they're playing for: Most bracketologists currently have Xavier as bubble-in, but they'll need to beat Marquette at the very least to feel safe on Selection Sunday.
Odds: 53.83% to make the semi's, 17.56% to make the finals, and 6.35% to win it all.
Bryce Cotton would have been the Player of the Year in the conference if it weren't for Dougie McBuckets, but the senior may be just as tough to stop and more important to his team. Surrounded by a good but not great cast, the Friars will likely go as far as Cotton takes them.
Providence has been on the upswing for several years now, could this finally be the year they break back into the NCAA Tournament?
Previous titles: 1994
What they're playing for: Widely considered to be bubble-out at this point in time (but just barely), Providence needs at least one win if they're going to climb back on the right side of the bubble. Their game against St. John's should be a war.
Odds: 45.82% to reach the semi's, 13.38% to reach the finals, and 4.68% to win it all.
The "most talented team in the Big East" had an up and down year. After an 0-5 start to conference play Steve Lavin rallied his team, who then went on a tear to put themselves squaring back in the mix for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Rysheed Jordan, widely expected to be named Rookie of the Year, played a big part in the turnaround.
With lots of talent on the roster and the tournament being played on their home court, the Johnnies are a popular darkhorse pick to win it all in The Garden.
Previous titles: 1983, 1986, 2000
What they're playing for: St. John's resume lacks in big wins right now with only a home win over Creighton to boast. St. John's definitely needs to beat Providence, and possibly Villanova in the semi-finals to put themselves back in the mix for the NCAA Tournament.
Odds: 54.18% to reach the semi's, 17.6% to reach the finals, and 6.77% to win it all.
The preseason pick to win the Big East, it's been a year to forget for Buzz Williams' team. The Golden Eagles knew they would be relying on a highly-ranked freshmen class, but for the most part those young players didn't live up to the hype with only Deonte Burton landing on the All-Rookie team.
Davante Gardner and Chris O'Tule make up the most fearsome frontline in the field, but it will be the Marquette guards who will need to play well if they have dreams of making an improbable run.
Previous titles: None
What they're playing for: Marquette will need to win the tournament to go dancing, so there's nothing to lose, right?
Odds: 46.17% to reach the semi's, 13.59% to make the finals, and 4.48% to win it all.
It's been a tough year for John Thompson III and his Hoyas, as they finished with a losing record (8-10) in conference play for the the second time in ten years. Markel Starks (1st Team) and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (2nd Team) were brilliant for most of the year, but the supporting cast couldn't be consistently relied upon while injuries (Jabril Trawick) and suspensions (Greg Whittington, Joshua Smith) certainly didn't help.
Georgetown can still play defense when they're focused, and if Starks and DSR get hot they could be a tough out in New York.
Previous titles: 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2007
What they're playing for: The Hoyas boast a great resume, with six Top-50 wins to show for their hard work. Optimists would say they only need to make the finals to get on the right side of the bubble, while any would say they need to win it all.
Odds: 82.9% to reach the quarter's, 22.4% to reach the semi's, 11.75% reach the finals, and 4.3% to win it all.
Kevin Willard will certainly miss Fuquan Edwin next season when his heralded recruiting class arrives. The talented senior, who has gotten some NBA talk, battled through injury this season to lead the Pirates to some nice upset wins. They are looking like a program on the rise moving forward.
Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina are competent enough in the backcourt to scare most coaches, while Brian Oliver is one of the best shooters in the conference. They could make some noise.
Previous titles: 1991, 1993
What they're playing for: The Pirates are the longshot to bet on if you are going to bet that way. They've got solid depth and few players that on their night can carry the team. They need to win it all if they want to play postseason basketball.
Odds: 47.55% to make the quarters, 7% to make the semi's, 2.55% to make the finals, and 0.65% to win it all.
The loss of head coach Brad Stevens to the NBA and the loss of returning star Roosevelt Jones to a preseason injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the Bulldogs, who were thoroughly overmatched in their first season in the Big East. Kellen Dunham made the 2nd team, but not much else went well.
If Dunham gets hot, you never know. But he'll have to get extremely hot for four straight days a la Gerry McNamara.
Previous titles: None
What they're playing for: Pride at this point. After a nice out-of-conference run to start the year, the wheels came off. This is a chance to enter next season feeling better.
Odds: 52.45% to make the quarter's, 8.45% to make the semi's, 3.26% to make the finals, and 0.88% to win it all.
Cleveland Melvin's late-season dismissal certainly didn't help, as it left Brandon Young to essentially fend for himself. Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton IV are nice-looking freshmen, but we said that four years ago when Melvin and Young stepped on campus.
Oliver Purnell was confirmed to return next season, which makes no sense and has greatly upset the DePaul fan base. They've been the laughing stock of the league for far too long considering the fertile recruiting grounds of Chicago.
Previous titles: None
What they're playing for: Conference membership. Can we do that?
Odds: 17.1% to make the quarter's, 1.07% to make the semi's, 0.21% to make the final, and 0.03% to win it all.