It’s the final weekend of the Big East regular season, and every team is jockeying for position. Villanova controls its own destiny at this point, 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
This team last week I was listening to a Marquette Basketball podcast that despite dropping a game to Villanova was already talking about a Big East Championship and the #1 overall seed in the Big East Tournament. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Basketball Gods are real, and they listen to the things you say.
One week later, Marquette is on a three game losing streak that’s resulted in the Villanova Wildcats clinching at least a share of the Big East Championship without even playing yesterday. Villanova will play at Seton Hall on Saturday for a chance at clinching the title outright, but a Marquette loss would have the same effect. Per KenPom.com, Villanova has a 62.2% chance of winning the Big East outright regardless of how it happens.
Even if Villanova and Marquette do split the Big East Title, Villanova would win the tie breaker for the #1 Seed in the Big East Tournament in half of those outcomes. That means the Wildcats have an 87.5% chance to be the #1 Seed, and here are how those scenarios breakout:
Big East Tournament #1 Seed Scenarios:— Brendan Reilly (@BrendanReilly37) March 7, 2019
- Villanova wins: Nova gets the #1
- Marquette loses: Nova gets the #1
- Villanova loses, Marquette wins, St. John's wins: Nova gets the #1
- Villanova loses, Marquette wins, Xavier wins: Marquette gets the #1
Big East Tournament Seeding
After I tweeted about “Bizzaro Big East” yesterday morning, the phenomenon struck again in force Wednesday night. Georgetown and Marquette, both teams that needed to win, lost to teams with worse conference records. It’s getting silly at this point.
We now face the insane situation where the current 3rd-7th place teams in the Big East are all 8-9 in conference play, so only two teams will finish the regular season above .500. Here’s where those teams would be seeded in the Big East Tournament if it was played today:
First Day: Wednesday, March 13th
- #7 Georgetown vs #10 Providence
- #8 Butler vs #9 DePaul
Quarter-Finals: Thursday, March 14th
- #1 Villanova vs #8 Butler/#9 DePaul
- #4 Xavier vs #5 St. John’s
- #2 Marquette vs #7 Georgetown/#10 Providence
- #3 Seton Hall vs #6 Creighton
Don’t get used to what you see above, other than Villanova the likely #1 and Marquette the likely #2. After those two, no team has better than a 50% chance to land in any one seed.
I actually figured out the seeding for all 32 possible outcomes of Saturday’s games, and the result is very fitting for this season. When breaking down what teams could fall into each seed, there was a clear team that was the favorite to land at nearly every seed:
The problem with that, is that none of the 32 remaining possible outcomes result in all of those teams landing in all of those seeds! These percentages all assume a 50/50 chance of each team winning the game, and at this point in the Big East that sounds about right. With that in mind, here’s the breakdown for each team:
Villanova - Possible Seeds: 1-2 | Likely Seed: #1 (87.5%) | Chance of Bye (100%)
The Wildcats will be either the #1 or the #2, and at this point they’re the overwhelming favorites for the Top Seed. Unless they lose to Seton Hall, Marquette beats Georgetown, AND Xavier beats St. John’s, Nova will be the top seed.
Marquette - Possible Seeds: 1-2 | Likely Seed: #2 (87.5%) | 1st Round Bye? (100%)
Both of the Big East’s top teams have now had three game losing streaks in conference play. For Marquette, that means they’re likely going to fall to the #2 seed. It’s not where they thought they’d be, but it’s still not a bad position to be in.
St. John’s - Possible Seeds: 3, 5-8 | Likely Seed: #3 (50%) | 1st Round Bye? (81.3%)
The Red Storm control their own destiny on Saturday. If they win at Xavier, they lock up the #3 seed. If they lose, they fall anywhere between 5-8, which includes an 18.7% of having to play in the opening round. It’s time for them to step up.
Xavier - Possible Seeds: 3-7 | Likely Seed: #4 (31.3%) | 1st Round Bye? (84.4%)
The Musketeers need some help, as even winning their game on Saturday could land them anywhere from a 3 to a 5 seed. The good news is that of all the teams that aren’t Villanova and Marquette, Xavier has the best chance of avoiding the first round on Wednesday with just a 15.6% chance of landing as the #7 seed.
Creighton - Possible Seeds: 3-5,7-9 | Likely Seed: #5 (31.3%) | 1st Round Bye? (56.2%)
Creighton’s another team whose seed will depend on the outcome of other games. For example, they could end up as the #5 seed whether they win or lose on Saturday. The one thing they do control is if they have to play on Wednesday or not. If they win, they’re guaranteed a 3-5 seed. But a loss could send them as far down as a 9 seed.
Georgetown - Possible Seeds: 3-9 | Likely Seed: #6 (25%) | 1st Round Bye? (62.6%)
A win assures Georgetown that they won’t fall into the the first round on Wednesday, and a loss doesn’t necessarily doom them to that fate either. But the chances of the Hoyas jumping up and grabbing the coveted #3 seed from the middle of the pack at this point are very low at 6.3%.
Seton Hall - Possible Seeds: 3-8 | Likely Seed: #7 (37.5%) | 1st Round Bye? (56.2%)
The Pirates are aother team that can avoid the first round with a win on Saturday. Of course that’s easier said than done when you’re playing Villanova. But even if the Hall falls to the defending National Champions, they still have a chance at avoiding a Wednesday game.
Butler - Possible Seeds: 4-6, 8-10 | Likely Seed: 8-10 (25% each) | 1st Round Bye? (25%)
Butler needs some help to climb out of the basement. Not only do they need to beat Providence, but they also need DePaul to win at Creighton. KenPom.com puts the chances of that happening at 10.35%, but the odds don’t seem to matter anymore in the Big East!
DePaul - Possible Seeds: 4-10 | Likely Seed: #9 (31.3%) | 1st Round Bye? (34.4%)
DePaul has to be flying high after flat out owning Georgetown last night. Their chances of avoiding the first round of the BET on the other hand, not so much. DePaul probably has the most complicated seeding possibilities of anyone. They could win and end up playing on Wednesday, and then there are a whole slew of scenarios from there. But what we can say is they have a 75% chance of not being the #10 seed, and that’s progress!
Providence - Possible Seeds: 8-10 | Likely Seed: #10 (50%) | 1st Round Bye? (100%)
Providence is the only team that will play in the first round no matter what. If they win on Saturday, they’re in the 8/9 game, but a loss will ensure that they’re the last place team in the seeding.