Big East NCAA Bracket WatchPosted by George Hershey on February 6th, 2014
With a little over five weeks to go until Selection Sunday, most Big East teams have about eight games left before the Big East Tournament to solidify their standing for the NCAA Tournament. Eight teams have somewhat realistic hopes of making it into the 68-team field, but all but two still have plenty of work to do if they want to impress the selection committee. Here we will take a look at each of the 10 teams with a quick snapshot of what they have done, where they are, and what they need to do to hear their name called on March 16.
#6 Villanova, 20-2 (8-1)
- Key Stats: #4 RPI, #7 Pomeroy, #7 BPI, #14 Strength of Schedule
- Projections: Lunardi #2 seed; RTC #2 seed; Bracket Matrix #2 seed
- Good Wins: #8 Kansas, #17 Iowa, Providence, Xavier
- Bad Losses: None
Villanova is all but a lock at this point. The Wildcats started the season with two huge wins in the Bahamas against Kansas and Iowa and they continued their great play into conference play. Their only two losses are understandable — at Syracuse and against a Creighton team that could have beaten the Knicks that night. They have rolled through conference play and look like they will have no problem the rest of the way. The one game remaining that can help solidify a #2 seed will be at Creighton on February 16. Going 8-1 or even 7-2 with a potential loss to St. John’s or Providence should be enough to finish with no worse than a #3 seed, leaving the Wildcats in a great position for March.
#12 Creighton, 18-3, (8-1)
- Key Stats: #8 RPI, #3 Pomeroy, #12 BPI, #27 SOS
- Projections: Lunardi #3 seed; RTC #3 seed; Bracket Matrix #3 seed
- Good Wins: @ #6 Villanova, California, Arizona State, Xavier
- Bad Losses: None
Creighton has been on roll since December started. After tough back-to-back losses to San Diego State and George Washington, they have since gone 13-1. They have some nice wins including a stomping at Villanova that left the nation buzzing about Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge. Their loss at Providence is not a big deal as they came out cold and that happens to every team at least once in the middle of conference play. Their remaining nine games will not be easy as they welcome Villanova to Omaha and have to go on the road to play St. John’s, Marquette, Xavier and Georgetown. Based on recent play they should be able to go at least 7-2, putting them in line for a #4 seed or better. There is still plenty of work to be done, but the Bluejays have been playing so well that they should be fine.
Xavier, 15-7 (5-4)
- Key Stats: #36 RPI, #45 Pomeroy, #44 BPI, #12 SOS
- Projections: Lunardi#9 Seed; RTC #7 seed; Bracket Matrix #10 seed
- Good Wins: #7 Cincinnati, Tennessee
- Bad Losses: USC, Seton Hall
It has been an up-and-down season for Xavier. The Musketeers went down to the Bahamas for Thanksgiving and looked like they were about to beat Iowa, but injuries and foul trouble helped the Hawkeyes win in overtime. From there the Musketeers lost two more against Tennessee and USC. For the next month, though, Xavier was one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning 10 of 11 games. Unfortunately, they have since suffered a recent blip, losing three straight. They need to get on track fast if they want to secure a guaranteed berth. They have a big game Saturday against Providence that will be a major step in the right direction, and they follow that up with a very winnable two weeks before playing St. John’s, Creighton and Villanova in the final two weeks. Luckily for Xavier, there are a few resume-boosting games remaining, but they have to take advantage of those and avoid any other bad losses.
Providence, 16-7 (6-4)
- Key Stats: #37 RPI, #53 Pomeroy, #61 BPI, #55 SOS
- Projections: Lunardi #11 seed; RTC #9 seed; Bracket Matrix #11 seed
- Good Wins: #12 Creighton, Xavier
- Bad Losses: Seton Hall
Providence missed out on some golden chances to get big wins during non-conference action, losing in overtime at Massachusetts and coming up short against Maryland, but they have worked their way up through conference play and are currently third in the standings. A tough 0-2 start to conference action has led to wins in six of their last eight games. The Friars’ win against Creighton was a big resume-enhancer, but also a huge morale and confidence booster. They need to get back on track after losing two of their last three since, but the upcoming schedule of Xavier, Georgetown and DePaul gives the Friars a good chance to pick up at least one impressive win. They still have to play Creighton and Villanova again which will be another great chance for a huge win. This team is right on the bubble as of now and if it can win one of those two, a loss or two in the remaining slate won’t matter and give them some breathing room in March.
Georgetown, 13-9 (4-6)
- Key Stats: #62 RPI, #54 Pomeroy, #69 BPI, #16 SOS
- Projections: Lunardi First Four Out
- Good Wins: Michigan State, VCU, Kansas State
- Bad Losses: Northeastern
Georgetown was sitting pretty until its frontcourt was decimated by suspension and injury. A solid non-conference slate led to a good start in conference play before the Hoyas tanked hard. They lost five straight and the loss of Joshua Smith and Jabril Trawick left the team with little hopes of postseason play. A win last week against Michigan State has inspired hope, however, that the Hoyas can turn their season around. They are back on the bubble and they have plenty of chances to solidify their spot in the field of 68, should they play well down the stretch. They play every team besides DePaul going forward and close out with Creighton at home and Villanova on the road. If Georgetown can go 4-2 before those two, at least one win should give them a great chance at an at-large berth. Games at St. John’s and at Marquette will be pivotal as well as contests against Providence and Xavier at home. They have some big wins already, so the Hoyas have to make sure they don’t suffer any bad losses the rest of the way.
Marquette, 13-10 (5-5)
- Key Stats: #86 RPI, #57 Pomeroy, #73 BPI, #65 SOS
- Projections: ESPN 24th team out
- Good Wins: George Washington, Providence
- Bad Losses: @Butler
The Big East’s preseason pick to finish first and a team that has been to three straight Sweet Sixteens has not been the same group that the nation has become used to under Buzz Williams. The Golden Eagles had plenty of opportunities early in the season, losing close games to Arizona State, San Diego State, Wisconsin and New Mexico. In conference play they have been consistent in failing to win more than one game in a row. A berth to the Big Dance is a crazy idea at this point, but as we have seen in the past, all it takes is for a team to get on a good run. This team has the ability to play with anybody in the league; it just needs to close out more games. They welcome Xavier, Creighton, Georgetown and St. John’s to the Bradley Center and they still have to visit Villanova and Providence. Those are plenty of games to pick up a few impressive wins. Realistically, beating Creighton or Villanova and winning all but maybe one other game will be necessary to be in the conversation for an at-large berth. The players have the experience and talent to make a run; they just have to go out and do it.
St. John’s 14-9 (4-6)
- Key Stats: #75 RPI, #44, # 63 BPI, #34 SOS
- Projections: None
- Good Wins: Providence
- Bad Losses: Penn State, DePaul
The Johnnies are starting to get rolling and the wild thought of making the NCAA Tournament is beginning to creep into people’s minds. A rough non-conference slate led into an awful first five conference games as the Red Storm floundered. A game against Dartmouth seems to have helped key the turnaround, however, as they are impressing folks around the league. In their past six games, they have only lost to Creighton — which needed 39 points and an NBA three from the presumptive NPOY to escape with a win. St. John’s has eight games remaining to get itself out of the hole, but what Steve Lavin’s team needs most is a win against a top team. Their best chance is on Sunday night when Creighton ventures to Madison Square Garden. If they win that game they will need to still go 5-2 or 6-1 down the stretch with one of those games at Villanova. It is certainly doable for the Johnnies, but their run will need to continue unabated for the next month.
Seton Hall 13-9 (4-5)
- Key Stats: #121 RPI, #81 Pomeroy, #94 BPI, #121 SOS
- Projections: None
- Good Wins: Xavier
- Bad Losses: St. Peter’s, Fairleigh Dickinson
The Pirates are having one of their best years in recent history in the Big East, but an amazing run down the stretch is the only conceivable way this team makes the NCAA Tournament. They do not have any great wins and have a few terrible losses weighing them down. Their remaining schedule shows a game against every team in the league so a huge run is unlikely, but finishing 9-9 is a good goal and a step in the right direction.
Butler, 12-10 (2-8)
- Key Stats: #95 RPI, #97 Pomeroy, #80 BPI, #77 SOS
- Projections: None
- Good Wins: Vanderbilt, Marquette
- Bad Losses: DePaul
The Big East has not been kind to the Bulldogs. The team was solid in non-conference play but only has won two games in its conference slate. This year the team will miss the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in the last seven years. This year was an expected down year, but next year should see the team fight for a berth with some talent returning from injury. There are still plenty of good games remaining for the team and they will definitely keep fighting under new head coach Brandon Miller.
DePaul, 10-13 (2-8)
- Key Stats: #109 RPI, #147 Pomeroy, #144 BPI, #41 SOS
- Projections: None
- Good Wins: St. John’s
- Bad Losses: Illinois State, Seton Hall
The Blue Demons will miss the NCAA Tournament for the 10th year in a row. Although they won back-t0-back games in the Big East for the first time in a decade, the team has struggled with injuries and a young lineup. DePaul has some pieces in place to build from and is slowly trying to gain some momentum for the future.