Last night marked the conclusion of the Big East tournament. As other Division I conferences wrap up the smaller tournaments in order to gear up for the granddaddy of them all, it looks like four Big East teams will be going to the Big Dance.
If there was any doubt that Providence was going to join in on the March Madness, they erased it all. There is now only certainty instead of uncertainty. Providence halted a late comeback effort by Doug McDermott and Creighton to lock up the conference title and a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Providence was in control for most of the game until McDermott gave them a scare by going on a shooting streak. The Friars were paced by a 23 point Bryce Cotton performance that led to a 65-58 victory. It was the first time Providence won the Big East title since 1994.
As for Creighton, Xavier, and Villanova, they have been projected to have a spot in the tournament for a large portion of the season. Villanova won the Big East outright regular season title and amassed a 28-4 record for the year. The Wildcats had been floating around the top 10 for most of the year, reaching as high as #3 on the AP and Coaches Polls. Led by Big East Coach of the Year Jay Wright and five All-Big East players, the Wildcats set a new program high for regular season and conference play wins. However, their 1-seed hopes for the NCAA tournament looks slim, as they fell to Seton Hall in dramatic fashion in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. They will most likely look for a 2-seed, but you never know what the selection committee has up their sleeves.
Entering the season, no one really knew how the new kids on the block would fare in their new conference. Well, Creighton and Xavier did a pretty good job. Creighton followed their Big East Player of the Year and National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott. McDermott is a scoring machine that can get hot at any time. The Bluejays spent a lot of time going up and down in the Top 25. They put together a 26-7 record, including a pair of big wins over the Wildcats. The Bluejays are looking at a 3-sseed maybe even a 4-seed.
The Musketeers lost to Creighton in the semifinals but still had a good season. The selection committee likes to see teams surpass the 20+ win mark. Towards the second half of the season, they began to enter tournament discussion. Semaj Christon may be playing in his last season for Xavier, as he may try look to go to the next level. He has been receiving some looks from NBA scouts just like McDermott. Their big center, Matt Stainbrook, went down with an injury at the tail end of the season, but he should be back for the NCAA tournament. Xavier will be looking at one of the lower seeds, probably anywhere from a 9-seed to an 11-seed.
Tune into the Selection Sunday show at 6 p.m. on CBS to see who’s in and who’s out. The women’s basketball Selection Sunday show will take place right after at 7 p.m. If you are a Villanova student or around the area, there will be a big watch party at the Connelly Center starting at 5:45 p.m. where the team will be watching.