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Big East Tournament Seeding Up For Grabs

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Villanova’s path through the Big East Tournament is still up in the air.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Unless Xavier drops one of their last two games, Villanova is likely going to head into the Big East Tournament as the #2 seed. According to KenPom.com, that’s the most likely scenario as the Musketeers have a 61% chance to win out. But even if the top of the Big East plays out as planned, the middle of the pack is completely up for grabs this week.

The would be 3-6 seeds in the Big East all have a conference record of 9-7. That group includes Seton Hall, Creighton, Butler, and Providence. These schools, along with Villanova and Xavier, will likely represent the Big East in the NCAA tournament. Marquette, who’s currently on the wrong side of the bubble and would need a BET run to get to the big dance, trails the big group and would need a win to finish 9-9 in Big East play.

The rest of the bracket, well they are who we thought they were. Georgetown, DePaul, and St. John’s continue to muck around at the bottom of the Big East.

The Path of the #2 Seed

To help us get an idea of what Villanova’s path through the Big East Tournament may look like, I simulated out the rest of the week based on KenPom predictions, and then seeded the tournament accordingly. Here’s what that would look like:

Projected 2018 Big East Tournament Seeding

Teams Current Record Projected Record Tie Breaker Projected Seed
Teams Current Record Projected Record Tie Breaker Projected Seed
Xavier 13-3 15-3 x 1
Villanova 12-4 14-4 x 2
Seton Hall 9-7 10-8 5-1 3
Creighton 9-7 10-8 3-3 4
Providence 9-7 10-8 2-4* 5
Butler 9-7 10-8 2-4 6
Marquette 8-9 9-9 x 7
Georgetown 5-12 5-13 x 8
DePaul 4-12 4-14 x 9
St. John's 3-13 3-15 x 10

Of course the projections don’t split up those 3-6 seeds, and it very well could come down to tie breakers. In this scenario, here’s how that would break down:

  • The records of the 3-6 seeds against eachother are compared as a “mini conference” and they’re seeded by that record.
  • If there is a tie, the winner of the head-to-head matchups is seeded higher.
  • If the teams split those games, the team with the best record against the highest seeded team is seeded higher. *Providence beat Xavier this season, Butler did not.

Round One: Fight!

Not only is Villanova likely to miss out on a fifth consecutive Big East title, they will definitely have the harder path to the Championship game. And strangely enough, that mainly has to do with the first game they’ll play in the tournament.

As the #2 seed, Villanova would play the winner of #7 Marquette vs #10 St. John’s. Of the bottom four seeds, these are easily the two that the Wildcats would have preferred to avoid.

Marquette will likely be the favorite in the matchup as the higher seed. They also need to win this game to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. However, St. John’s won when they faced off in NYC earlier this season, and the Johnnies would need to win the BET in order to go dancing. Home court advantage helps too.

Marquette is a tough matchup for the Wildcats, and they’ve been able to burn Nova’s defense for 90 and 82 points in their two games this season. St. John’s pulled the upset and beat Villanova (granted Nova was down two starters) and has proven that their length and athleticism can cause issues for the ‘Cats on both ends of the floor. Either way Nova will be heavily favored, as they will have a #1 seed on the line. But I think all of Nova Nation would rather face Georgetown or DePaul in the quarter finals.

Semi-Finals: Rivalries Continued

Assuming Villanova advances, they get two of the group 3-6 seed group. All four of these teams represent the level of opponent Villanova will likely have to face in the 2nd Round or Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, so there is no “easy” opponent. But as far as who they’d play in this scenario, either way they’re getting a rival.

While the Wildcats finally put an end to the losing streak to Butler, the Bulldogs did beat Nova this season and have the confidence to do it again. Seton Hall, who Villanova plays on the road tomorrow, hasn’t beaten the Wildcats since 2016... in the Big East Tournament. Last year was the first time since 2013 that Nova went an entire season without dropping a game to Seton Hall. In order to make it two years in a row, the Wildcats may have to beat them twice in 10 days.

Butler lost at home in the first matchup to Seton Hall, and the two will meet again on Saturday with the Pirates as 2 point favorites. It may be too close to call as far as who Nova would face at in the Semi-Finals, but either way it will be a team that presents matchup problems and has the confidence to win.

Finals: X Marks the Spot

Let’s be honest, Villanova vs Xavier for the title is the game everyone wants to see. For Xavier fans, it’s a chance to claim they’re true Big East Champs, and not just the title holders who couldn’t beat the ‘Cats. For Villanova, it’s validation that they really were the best team in the conference. And for both teams, #1 Seeds in the NCAA Tournament could be on the line.

Villanova will be the clear favorite in this game, as they’ve beaten the Musketeers by double digits in both of their games this season. That said, it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same year. Xavier is clearly good enough to come away with the victory, the question will be if they actually believe they can beat the Wildcats. In their last two meetings, they didn’t.