Big East Bubble Watch: Volume I

Posted by Justin Kundrat on February 20th, 2019

With just about a month remaining until Selection Sunday, the race to secure an NCAA Tournament bid is on. The Big East as a whole is eating itself alive, so the next couple of games and the conference tournament will be critical in determining which teams are dancing come March. All figures below are from


Marquette is One of Only Two Big East Locks at This Point (USA Today Images)
  • Marquette: 21-4 (10-2); NET: 19; SOS: 318
  • Villanova: 20-6 (11-2); NET: 20; SOS: 16
  • Analysis: These two teams have been a mainstay in the national polls in recent weeks and very little could happen to knock them out of NCAA Tournament consideration. Marquette is currently 7-3 against Quadrant 1 opponents, while Villanova is 3-4, and neither team has a Quadrant 3 or 4 loss on its resume. Both teams will be fighting for favorable seeding, with a best case scenario being a #3/#4 seed on Selection Sunday, which a Big East Tournament championship should provide. A slide by either, though, could push one to the #6/#7 seed line.

Should Be In

  • St. John’s: 19-7 (7-6); NET: 46; SOS: 53. Analysis: The slope has been rather slippery for the Johnnies in recent weeks, but a pair of wins over Marquette kept them afloat before solidifying themselves by overcoming a 14-point deficit against Villanova this weekend. Now, St. John’s is 5-4 in its Quadrant 1 games and its neutral floor win over Atlantic 10 leader VCU has aged well. Chris Mullin‘s team has a fairly favorable schedule remaining and should be favored in all five games. Even if the Red Storm stumble, a 3-2 record in those games should be sufficient regardless of their Big East tournament performance. This team’s performance has highly match-up dependent this season, but the NCAA Tournament needs Shamorie Ponds

Not Quite There

Seton Hall Has Clawed Its Way to a Three-Game Winning Streak (USA Today Images)
  • Seton Hall: 16-9 (7-6); NET: 60; SOS: 39. Analysis: Seton Hall’s games might not be pretty, but the Pirates have succeeded in winning with their backs against the wall. A recent three-game winning streak that includes beating Georgetown and taking down Creighton twice (in addition to effectively knocking the Bluejays off the bubble) means that the Pirates now stand at 7-6 in Big East play while boasting some impressive non-conference wins (at Maryland; vs. Kentucky). The Pirates’ NET number is uncomfortably low, but their remaining schedule provides good chances to add another signature win or two. Kevin Willard‘s group would be best served to win one of its home games against Villanova or Marquette, however. According to, Seton Hall is looking at a #10 or #11 seed, but that’s assuming no major hiccups along the way.

On the Fringe

  • Butler: 15-11 (6-7); NET: 49; SOS: 27. Analysis: The eye test isn’t a favorable one for LaVall Jordan‘s group, but lucky for them, computer metrics don’t care about beauty in the eye of the beholder. At #49, Butler is hovering around numerous other bubble teams, which keeps the Bulldogs in the conversation despite an otherwise unimpressive resume. Wins over Ole Miss and Florida are decent, although the latter’s stock is sinking fast, and Butler stands at just 6-7 in Big East play. In other words, this team is winning the games it is supposed to, but losing its marquee opportunities. A win at Marquette or Villanova would go a long way, in addition to a strong showing at the Big East Tournament, but at this point, Butler’s inclusion is a tough case to make.
Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

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

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