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The Sun’s Arizin: Villanova Basketball’s Big East Tournament Scenarios

With just one week of play left for the Wildcats, their post-season picture is starting to take shape.

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Happy Friday Nova Nation! The Wildcats have the weekend off, but all eyes will be on Providence where the Friars could clinch their first ever Big East Title with a win over short-handed Creighton. The Bluejays just lost their starting point guard for the season with a wrist injury, so the odds are the Friars will be the regular season champs.

That of course also means they’d be the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament, bumping Nova from the Top spot. Villanova has been the top seed in the BET for six of the last eight seasons, and one of non-#1 seed years the tournament was canceled due to COVID. In other words, this is the first time Villanova will be playing at night on a Thursday since 2018.

If you’re tracking all of this closely, Matt Hackman has been doing a great job of keeping everyone up to date with the seeding possibilities across all major conferences. Here’s the latest:

This doesn’t account for last night’s hugely impactful DePaul win over Georgetown, but those two are pretty much locked into the 10th and 11th spots.

So, what does the future hold for them? There are still a few variables at play here, but the conference outlook is starting to take shape. Here are the possible seeds and opponents for Villanova when they head to MSG in two weeks.

The #1 Seed is still in play

Villanova can still end up with the regular season title and the #1 overall seed, but now there is a VERY specific set of circumstances that must happen:

  • Providence loses to Creighton on Saturday
  • Villanova defeats Providence on Tuesday
  • Villanova defeats Butler next Saturday

If all of that came to pass, then Villanova would nab the top seed and be looking at the winner of the 8 vs 9 game. The 9 seed is almost a lock to be Butler, but the 8 seed looks like it will be St. John’s or Xavier. That should sort itself out this week when Xavier travels to St. John’s on Wednesday.

As for the #4 seed, that’s probably Creighton. Again, their point guard is done for the season, so things are lining up well for whoever can claim the top overall seed.

The #2 Seed is most likely

The probability that Villanova ends up as the two seed is really high now. The fact that they’ll be one of the few Big East teams to actually play all 20 conference games essentially gives them the “tie breaker” if they finish with the same number of losses as Providence, Creighton, or UConn. As the #2 seed, they’ll get the prime time spot in MSG on Thursday night against the winner of the 7 v 10 game.

The 10 seed will almost certainly be DePaul. The #7 though is a bit of a toss up at the moment between Seton Hall, Xavier, and St. John’s. Each of those teams plays three games over the next eight days, and Xavier seems to be the team that will decide this. The Muskateers play vs Seton Hall tomorrow, at St. John’s on Wednesday, and home vs Georgetown to close out the season. Xavier is who I’d most want to see as Villanova’s first tournament opponent, but it’s too early to say with any certainty how this will shake out.

The #3 Seed means things got bad

Just like the top seed, there is a very finite scenario in which Villanova would end up as the #3 seed:

  • Villanova loses to Providence
  • Villanova loses to Butler
  • Either UConn (at Georgetown, at Creighton, vs DePaul) or Creighton (at Providence, vs UConn, vs Seton Hall) wins out.

KenPom gives this a 1.4% chance of happening, so I’m not to worried here. But just to be thorough, let’s play it out.

The #3 Seed plays in the 9:30PM night cap on Thursday night against the #6 seed. The #6 seed is the most up for grabs spot in the tournament, but the leading contenders are Seton Hall and Xavier. There’s a chance that Marquette or Creighton could fall to this spot, and there’s also a chance that St. John’s plays their way up to it. Either way, this invites the most possible opponents I’d want to avoid in a Quarterfinal, so it’s crucial that Nova wins at least one of its final two games.

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