Big East Tournament Preview

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 11th, 2015

It’s that time of year again. Selection Sunday is right around the corner and sports sections in newspapers and websites across the country are littered with college basketball discussions. Championship Week is a tasty prelude to next week’s madness, but it offers much of the same intensity, drama and excitement. Every conference has a team (or several) fighting to keep its dream of making the NCAA Tournament alive. While many major conference teams already have at-large bids locked up, some others are forced to play each game as if it were its last, because, well, it might just be. The Big East has six teams that appear to have played well enough during the regular season to earn those coveted NCAA bids. The other four have not been quite so fortunate and therefore will begin their pursuit of the dream in this week’s second season. Below is a brief review of what to watch for at Madison Square Garden.


Villanova Wants to Add Another Trophy to its Collection This Weekend (USA Today Images)

Key Storylines

  • Will Villanova uphold its projected #1 seed for the NCAA Tournament?
  • How will a surging St. John’s perform at home amid the tournament hype?
  • Will one of the bottom four teams piece together a tournament run similar to Providence last year?
  • Seton Hall’s fall has been a steep one, but is there enough in the tank to regroup and make a run?

The Favorite: Villanova Wildcats (29-2, 16-2). It should come as no surprise that Villanova is the overwhelming favorite to win the Big East Tournament. After bowing out in the quarterfinals to Seton Hall last season, the Wildcats brought back most of their core group while adding a steady backup point guard in Phil Booth. Save for an ice cold shooting performance at Georgetown in February, Villanova’s offense has looked nearly unstoppable, running over any Big East opponent that has stood in its way. That balanced offense, led by senior Darrun Hilliard and full of shooters and slashers, poses all sorts of problems. The recipe for beating it is to strategically extend out to the perimeter on every player while keeping a rim-protector nearby should the Wildcats put the ball on the floor. Georgetown successfully figured this out (for one game, at least), while Butler and Creighton came awfully close as well. It can be done.

The Runner-Up: Butler Bulldogs (22-9, 12-6). Butler and Georgetown will likely have to settle this debate in the semifinals, but the Bulldogs are once again playing at full strength with Andrew Chrasbascz back in the lineup. His post presence provides the team with interior scoring and defense, and when he is paired with Kameron Woods (9.6 RPG) along the front line, it’s no wonder that Butler is one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Coupling their defensive tenacity with Kellen Dunham’s shot-making ability, the Bulldogs are quite capable of keeping any game within striking distance even in an unfavorable matchup. This versatility makes Butler a strong contender for the Big East Tournament crown should Villanova falter.

The Dark Horse: St. John’s Red Storm (21-10, 10-8). The Johnnies might not have much depth but they have athleticism and a plethora of streaky shooters. Sir’Dominic Pointer, a 6’5″ stretch forward, has been playing as well as anyone in the conference lately, while the guard trio of D’Angelo Harrison, Rysheed Jordan and Phil Greene has contributed perimeter scoring. St. John’s is a team that is capable of beating anyone when they’re hot, and their near-upset of Duke in January proved as much. Steve Lavin’s team comes in having won seven of its last nine games, moving the Red Storm from off the bubble to a projected #7 seed in the NCAA tournament, and its momentum is surging. The road to the title game, however, won’t be an easy one. First up is Providence, led by conference co-POYs Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton; and should they beat the Friars, Villanova is next.

Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *