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Big East Championship and Big East Tournament Seeding: 512 Possible Outcomes

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Every possibility for the final week of Big East play

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With one week remaining in the Big East regular season, every team is jockeying for position. Just a half game separates the two teams still fighting for a Championship, while the rest of the league jockeys for position and tries to avoid the bottom four seeds of the Big East Tournament. Let’s jump right in!

Big East Regular Season Championship

There are nine games remaining in Big East play, which means there are 512 possible outcomes to the rest of the season. As of today, Villanova holds a half game lead in the standings, with just one game remaining on their schedule. I ran the numbers after yesterday’s Marquette loss, and things are looking pretty good for your Villanova Wildcats. But before I reveal the results, let’s look at what actually has to happen.

As far as the title goes, this all comes down to three games: Marquette at Seton Hall, Villanova at Seton Hall, and Georgetown at Marquette. Of course if any two teams were going to find a way to make this difficult for the Wildcats, it’d be the Hoyas and the Pirates. If Villanova wins their game, or Marquette loses either of theirs, the Wildcats will clinch at least a share of the Championship. If two of those outcomes happen, Nova will claim the title outright.

Since they’re already out in front, this first part isn’t going to be hard to believe. Of the 512 possible outcomes for the season, Villanova wins at least a share of the Big East Championship in 87.5% of them (448). Even more startling is that Villanova wins the Big East outright in 50% of all outcomes (256).

As great as those numbers sound, they’re admittedly a little misleading. They assume that every game has a 50/50 chance of being a win or a loss for each team. So to figure out the weighted probability of Nova walking away with a Championship, I turned to the predictive win percentages from KenPom.com. Of the three games we discussed earlier, the most likely outcome in Villanova’s favor is that they win at Seton Hall (57%). That’s followed Marquette losing at Seton Hall (43%), and Marquette losing to Georgetown (17%). So when taking those percentages into account, Villanova has a 79.7% chance to win at least a share of the Big East, and a 33.2% chance to win it outright.

Big East Tournament Seeding

The next biggest question is BET seeding, especially when it comes to a tiebreaker between Villanova and Marquette if they share the title. So before we get into the possible outcomes, let’s look at the tie breakers that could come into play.

Because the teams split their regular season games, the next tie breaker is how they did against the next best team or teams. If just one team is in third place, the tie breaker is Nova and Marquette’s records against that team. If multiple teams tie for the third best record, the tie breaker is Nova and Marquette’s records against all of those teams. Should there still be a tie when going through all of these groups down the standings (and yes, this is possible), then the final tie breaker would be conference road wins. Since Villanova already has four losses and Marquette will have no more than three, Marquette would win this final tie breaker as the team with the most road wins.

Of the 9 games and 512 possible outcomes for the Big East regular season, taking every possible tie breaker into account, Villanova comes out as the #1 seed in the BET 58.6% of the time. Unfortunately, if Villanova and Marquette do share the regular season championship, Villanova would only win the tiebreaker 22.9% of the time. If we also use the winning percentages from KenPom, Villanova has a 37.1% chance of being the #1 seed (including out right and shared titles). So at the end of the day, while Villanova is likely to win at least a share of the Big East Championship, Marquette is the favorite to grab the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament.

But enough of percentages. Let’s get into what the seeding would look like today. Villanova is back on top, with Marquette just a half step behind. Then the rest of the pack is back to their old ways, all within 2 games of each other.

First Day: Wednesday, March 13th

  • #7 Creighton vs #10 DePaul
  • #8 Butler vs #9 Providence

Quarter-Finals: Thursday, March 14th

  • #1 Villanova vs #8 Butler/#9 Providence
  • #4 Xavier vs #5 St. John’s
  • #2 Marquette vs #7 Creighton/#10 DePaul
  • #3 Georgetown vs #6 Seton Hall

It’s taken a little while, but we can finally start determining where these teams could land in the bracket by this time next week. Here’s the quick breakdown:

Villanova: 1-2 Seed | The Wildcats have had one of the top two seeds locked up for a while now. While Nova does control its own destiny in terms of earning a share of the Big East Championship, Marquette still holds the majority of the tie breaker outcomes.

Marquette: 1-2 Seed | The Golden Eagles have dropped two straight, and are in danger of losing out on the #1 seed in the Big East Tourament if they continue to slide. Either way, they’ll still have a first round bye and a better path to the BET Title Game than most.

Georgetown: 3-9 Seed | The Hoyas have pulled off some impressive wins in the last few weeks, but a trip to Marquette still looms this weekend. If they want a shot at a high BET seed and possibly the NCAA Tournament, that game is a must win.

Xavier: 3-9 Seed | The Big East’s hottest team has won five straight, and looks to close out the regular season with sweeps of Butler and St. John’s. They’ll likely need to do both in order to claim the #3 seed.

St. John’s: 3-9 Seed | The Red Storm have been dropping some games they shouldn’t have, including their last two. They get a shot at redemption against Xavier, but will need Georgetown to drop one as well if they want a shot at the #3 Seed.

Seton Hall: 3-10 Seed | The Pirates have the most opportunity of any team in the Big East as they finish the season with two home games against Villanova and Marquette. But knocking off the top teams is easier said than done, and the Pirates could wind up at the bottom of the heap.

Creighton: 3-10 Seed | Villanova fans were very thankful to the Bluejays as their road win at Marquette opened the door for the Wildcats to go after the regular season championship. As for the Bluejays BET seeding, more wins would help but they’re already playing catch-up.

Butler: 4-10 Seed | The Bulldogs have looked bad recently, dropping all of their last three games. A BET Title may be their only way into the Big Dance at this point, and unfortunately that may need to be a four day run.

Providence: 4-10 Seed | It’s been an injury plagued down season for the Friars, and they’re another team that would need to win the BET in order to make the NCAA Tournament. Ideally they make that a little easier by claiming at least a 6 Seed before next week.

DePaul: 4-10 Seed | Despite being much improved from last year, DePaul again finds itself in the basement of the Big East. Then again, with only 2 games separating 8 teams, they could climb as high as the #4 seed before we tip things off at Madison Square Garden.