Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City.
When: March 8-11.
Championship Game: March 11—5:30 p.m. ET, FOX.
2016 Champion: Seton Hall.
While the Big East isn’t what it used to be, it’s still a darn good league. For starters, they have the defending National Champion in Villanova. And, should have at least six teams in the NCAA tournament.
Two games at the Garden kick off the tournament action on Wednesday, with the title game taking place late Saturday afternoon. So let’s take a look at the favorite, the contenders, and the pretenders for the Big Ten tournament.
The Favorite — Villanova
Not much of a shock here.
While there are other good tournament-level teams in the Big East, Villanova is head and shoulders above the rest. Josh Hart is, in all likelihood, the Big East’s Player of the Year. Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson have blossomed into stars. And their coach, Jay Wright, is as good as any. They are a lock for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens in New York.
But after losing in last year’s tournament, the Wildcats will be out looking for revenge.
Contenders — Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Providence, Xavier, Marquette
Even if they lose to the winner of Xavier/DePaul, Butler is a lock for a top-five seed. Xavier has had a horrific second half, now finding themselves firmly on the bubble. They need a win over DePaul, then Butler, to help them advance in March.
Meanwhile, Creighton and Providence do battle in round one, with both currently being in the field. The exact same thing can be said for Seton Hall and Marquette. Winner locks in their spot (most likely) while the loser paces up and down the room come Selection Sunday.
Pretenders — St. John’s, Georgetown, DePaul
Maybe next year, folks. If you’re a big fan of these teams, don’t plan on being in NYC for too long if you’re heading up for the tournament. Out of the three, the only team I would give a shot at making a deep tournament run is DePaul. And that’s only because the winner of Georgetown/St. John’s will be meeting Villanova on Thursday afternoon.
We will check back with these fine teams in the fall.
Will Villanova get their revenge?