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Big East Championship Countdown

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The league title is on the line for a few teams this week

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s mid-February, and that means it’s time to start honing in on the Big East Title race, and subsequently the Big East Tournament seeding. The title race is far from over, although it does seem to be just a two horse race. But the seeding is clearly up in the air, as the 3-10 seeds are all within two games of each other.

The Big East Regular Season Championship

Marquette’s victory over Villanova this weekend kept the Wildcats from running away with this one. Even though it was Villanova’s first conference loss of the season, they now hold just a one game edge over the Golden Eagles for the league lead.

A quick reminder, there are no tiebreakers for the Big East Regular Season Championship. If two teams end the season with the same record, even if one team beat the other twice, they’re still both considered co-champions. The only tie breaker would be for the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament.

The front runners are Villanova and Marquette, and have been for some time. Villanova has been the class of the Big East in recent years, winning the regular season title in four of the last five seasons. Even in the one year they lost, they still won the Big East Tournament and the National Championship.

But the challengers have just beaten the Wildcats and have been higher in the rankings for nine weeks. That would be the Marquette Golden Eagles, who last won the Big East Title in a three-way split with Georgetown and Louisville in 2013. It was their only regular season championship in their 13 seasons in the Big East. They’re looking to finally get their second, and if they win out they’ll guarantee at least a share of the title.

While it is likely going to come down to Villanova and Marquette for the Championship, technically none of the other teams have been eliminated yet. That could all change as early as today.

Elimination Games

  • Xavier, 3-8 in conference play, is at the end of their rope. They need a TON of help that’s unlikely to come just to have hopes at sharing the title. In order to stay in the hunt, they would need Marquette to lose tonight, Villanova to lose on Wednesday, and they’d need to beat Creighton. Xavier isn’t going to repeat as the champs this year.
  • Speaking of the Bluejays, Creighton sits at 4-7 and is very close to officially falling out of the race. If Villanova wins tomorrow and Creighton loses on the road at Xavier, they’re eliminated.
  • Finally there’s Villanova’s next opponent, Providence. The Friars are facing an elimination game. Win and they might be able to hold out hope through the weekend. But lose and their only chance for a Big East title this season will be at MSG.

Big East Tournament

For those teams that aren’t in the title race, they still have a shot in the Big East Tournament. As we’ve seen in the past, any team is capable of running the table and earning a spot in the NCAA tournament regardless of their record. With that in mind, here’s what the current seeding for the BET would look like:

First Day: Wednesday, March 13th

  • #7 St. John’s vs #10 Xavier
  • #8 Creighton vs #9 Providence

Quarter-Finals: Thursday, March 14th

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

A few things jump out of this, but the biggest one is that St. John’s would currently be the #7 seed and potentially face Marquette in the quarter-finals. For those of you wondering how that could happen, it’s because of the giant log jam in the middle of the conference.

Per the Big East rules, if more than two teams finish with identical records, their seeding is determined by separating them into a “mini-conference” and determining their record within that. Then, that group is seeded by their winning percentage in the mini-conference. As of today, Here’s how the mini-conference of Butler, DePaul, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and St. John’s would look:

  1. DePaul (3-1)
  2. Butler (4-2)
  3. Georgetown (2-2)
  4. Seton Hall (2-3)
  5. St. John’s (1-4)

That’s right, in this crazy world DePaul is the three seed and Nova’s semi-final matchup could be Butler or Georgetown. The good (or bad) news is that with seven games left in conference play this is likely to shake up a bit more. Then again, we’ve been saying that for a few weeks now and the 3-10 seeds are still all within striking distance of one another.