The Big East hasn’t been quite as strong this year as they were last year, but it has still been really good. One could definitely make a very good argument that the Big East has been the second or third-best conference this season behind the Big 12. Multiple teams are in position to contend for the national championship. But first, all of the focus is on the Big East tournament this week at Madison Square Garden.
Big East Tournament Preview
Marquette Golden Eagles
For the first time ever Marquette won the Big East regular season title outright. Head coach Shaka Smart was named the conference’s Coach of the Year and should be one of the favorites for National COTY. David Joplin just won Big East Sixth Man of the Year. The Golden Eagles were picked to finish ninth in the league and now are the top seed. They are also excellent offensively, being 15th in points per game and 4th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Xavier has been great this season after bringing back Sean Miller as head coach. UTEP transfer (Formerly of San Francisco.) Souley Boum has been excellent and one of the best, most successful transfers in the country this season. Like Marquette, the Musketeers are one of the best offensive teams in the country, scoring the 10th most points per game and being 7th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Creighton is led by now two-time defending Big East Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kalkbrenner. When he missed a bunch of games earlier in the season, the Bluejays struggled mightily. But with him on the floor they are dominant. Behind Kalkbrenner, Creighton is the 10th most defensively efficient team in the nation.
UConn has Adama Sanogo, Jordan Hawkins, and a host of other players. At one point earlier this season they were ranked #2 in the AP Poll. The Huskies are top 12 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. They score more than 79 point per game as a team. This is a very good all-around team despite finishing 4th in the Big East in the regular season.
It is very weird to call Villanova a “sleeper.” But that’s exactly what they are this year. The Wildcats have been a significantly better basketball team ever since getting Justin Moore back from injury. Kyle Neptune’s squad is more than capable of making a run and becoming a bid stealer for this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Others To Watch
St. John’s and Seton Hall are other teams that are well-equipped to make a run in this tournament. Providence I would even consider a favorite too. I think 8 of the teams in this conference are capable of winning this year’s Big East Tournament.
As I said above I think that almost anyone can win the Big East Tournament this year. But I have to pick one. UConn is back playing like they were earlier in the season and is currently on a five-game winning streak. They have a very well-rounded roster. I’m going with the Huskies.