Big East Bubble Watch: Volume II

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 6th, 2018

With only five days remaining until Selection Sunday, things are finally starting to fall into place. The Big East as a whole has clearly exceeded preseason expectations and is on pace for six or seven bids despite its ongoing cannibalism. RPI and strength of schedule (SOS) figures are from and the NCAA Nitty Gritty Report. Projected average seed is from


Are Villanova and Xavier Poised to be #1 Seeds?(USA Today Images)

  • Villanova: 27-4 (14-4); RPI: 2; SOS: 13; Avg. Seed: 1.00
  • Xavier: 27-4 (15-3); RPI: 3; SOS: 11; Avg. Seed: 1.06
  • Seton Hall: 21-10 (10-8); RPI: 27; SOS: 25; Avg. Seed: 7.21
  • Creighton: 20-10 (10-8); RPI: 35; SOS: 51; Avg. Seed: 8.22
  • Butler: 19-12 (9-9); RPI: 45; SOS: 29; Avg. Seed: 9.60

Analysis: Villanova and Xavier are on pace to earn #1 seeds, while the others are comfortably in the field and likely in the #7 – #10 seed range. Seton Hall, Creighton and Butler all have strong RPIs with enough quality wins that a loss in this week’s Big East Tournament will not knock them off the bubble.

Should Be In

  • Providence: 19-12 (10-8); RPI: 43; SOS: 23; Avg. Seed: 10.72. Analysis: Things haven’t always been pretty for the Friars, but with three Quadrant 1 wins and a 5-1 record against Quadrant 2 teams, Ed Cooley‘s group has done enough to warrant a bid. Winning at Xavier last Wednesday night certainly would have secured the bid, but the key after that defeat was to avoid any further bad losses. Providence did just that on Saturday, knocking off a Shamorie Ponds-less St. John’s squad and notching yet another home win, where they are 13-4 on the season. At this point, signs are pointing towards a #11 seed or a spot in a play-in game, but the Friars would be best served by beating Creighton in the Big East Tournament on Thursday and securing another quality victory. Failure to do so might leave the door open for bid thieves from other conferences to encroach on their position. All told, Providence fans will be restless next weekend. The Friars’ offense has been woeful in recent weeks, lacking in consistent outside shooting and easy points around the rim. If they secure a bid, success will hinge on finding a team upon which it can impose its menacing tempo.

On the Fringe

Marquette (USA Today Images)

  • Marquette: 18-12 (9-9); RPI: 57; SOS: 28; Avg. Seed: OUT. Analysis: Marquette had been stumbling but it held on for dear life last Monday at Georgetown — scraping by in overtime — and following that victory up with a much-needed comeback win over Creighton. The hero ball antics of Andrew Rowsey, Sam Hauser and Markus Howard continue to generate volatile performances. At this point, an RPI of #57 and a 9-9 conference record might not cut it, so Wednesday’s first round Big East Tournament game against DePaul is a must-win. But if Marquette truly wants to control its destiny, a win over Villanova on Thursday would do it. Both games against the Wildcats were competitive this season and nobody should rule out a team that can shoot like the Golden Eagles. When its shots are falling, Marquette looks every bit the Tournament team as any of the middle ones above. Barring that outcome, though, a loss to the Wildcats would put Marquette’s fate in the hands of other bubble teams around the country failing to notch signature wins.
Justin Kundrat (141 Posts)

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

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