Big East basketball was on a high this season. With the exception of Georgetown, who didn’t win a conference game, almost every team in the Big East finished somewhat where they were projected. Villanova took home the conference championship, while Providence took home the regular season title.
The Friars had the best season in school history this year. Marquette, Seton Hall, Creighton and UConn all made appearances in the top-25 this year. Where will these Big East basketball teams finish in the NCAA Tournament?
How Long Will Big East Basketball Teams Last in the NCAA Tournament?
How Far Can Villanova Basketball Go?
Even with Providence winning the regular season title, Villanova was the best team in the conference all season. The Wildcats are led by Big East Basketball Player of the Year Collin Gillespie. Gillespie averages just short of 16 points per game. A couple of keys to winning the NCAA Tournament is having a great coach and an experienced point guard. Villanova checks both of these boxes. The Wildcats rank 11th in KenPom, with an AdjO of 117.9 and an AdjD of 93.9. The biggest challenge to Villanova will be Tennessee in the Sweet 16 and Arizona in the Elite Eight. It can pretty be chalked up that the Wildcats will be alive in the second weekend.
How Far Can UConn Go?
When March rolls around and you hear the name Uconn, two players immediately come to mind. Kemba Walker. Shabazz Napier. This Huskies team is much different than the ones that have had to rely on a guard to carry the team. The big factor for Uconn was their ability to limit their opponents three-point field goal percentage. They only gave up 36% of three-point shots made in conference play. Adama Sanogo will be the X-Factor for the Huskies. He averages 14.9 points per game and 8.9 rebounds a game. The Huskies matchup against New Mexico State and probably won’t have a challenge until Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. I would guess that’s where UConn’s season comes to an end.
How Far Can Providence Go?
Providence had the best season in program history, winning the Big East regular season conference title. Heading into the tournament, many had high expectations to see how Providence could prove their season. They went down in the early part of the tournament. Nate Watson leads the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game. Ed Cooley’s team scores 71.8 points per game and gives up 67 points per game. With their incredible season, the Friars got a tough draw against a good South Dakota State team. The Jackrabbits are the best three-point shooting team in the country. They have not lost a game since Dec. 7. This is a big let down spot for the Friars and their magnificent season may end early.
How Far Can Creighton Go?
The Creighton Bluejays were just one team that were in the middle of the wild Big East. The Bluejays were able to solidify a spot in the tournament with a run to the Big East Championship. Greg McDermott’s squad is led by Ryan Hawkins, who averages 13.9 points per game. As a team, the Bluejays score 69 points per game and give up 65.9 per game. The Bluejays matchup against San Diego State, who has one of the best defenses in the nation. If Creighton can’t get points going quickly, it could be a long afternoon for the Bluejays.
How Far Can Seton Hall Go?
The Seton Hall Pirates are coming into the NCAA Tournament, winning eight out of their last 10 games. Jared Rhoden is averaging 15.9 points per game on 39.2% shooting during the season. While the Pirates can struggle on offense, they only allow 66.3 points per game. Look for Seton Hall to ride their hot streak against a tough TCU team. The Horned Frogs succeed on the defensive end, only giving up 65 points per game. TCU tends to occasionally struggle on offense, scoring 68.1 points per game. This opens Seton Hall an opportunity to move onto the second round before a matchup against Arizona, which I expect the Pirates to lose.
How Far Can Marquette Go?
The Marquette Golden Eagles lost their first three conference games. They then went on to win seven straight, including wins over Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova and Xavier. Justin Lewis was the leading scorer for the Golden Eagles, tallying 17.1 per game. Marquette averages 74.4 on the year. T Marquette can go on dominant defensive stretches. If we see this the Gold Eagles could make the second weekend. The worry for the Golden Eagles is who will score if Lewis is off? With a matchup against North Carolina, who has dominant inside play, it is likely Marquette goes down in the first round.
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