The Big East's Villanova Wildcats and Xavier Musketeers have played remarkable basketball this season, with both clubs crossing the regular season finish line in the RPI top 10 and ranked No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, in the AP top 25. To be sure, Big East basketball stands among such hardwood conference juggernauts as 2016's Big 12 and ACC, and with a little luck a full six of the league's 10 teams could earn NCAA Tournament berths this year.
That Villanova represents the class of the pack is no secret, but it's been Xavier's catapulting season which has landed them firmly among the darlings of this year's tournament field. The Wildcats are combating a history of regular season dominance only to spectacularly fail come March Madness, while the Musketeers have finally assembled the right personnel and philosophy to blast into this year's Final Four.
Outside of 'Nova and Xavier, of course, are a host of clubs vying for a crack at the two tournament favorites. Butler continues to rough up opponents on a regular basis, while Providence is working on an impressive, if volatile year itself. Seton Hall is ranked No. 29 by Ken Pomeroy currently, the third-best Big East team by his calculus. Chris Dobbertean considers the Blue Jays a safe No. 8 or 9 Big Dance seed, yet they appear nowhere on Joe Lunardi's latest bracket estimation. A strong run deep into the conference tournament should definitely change that.
The Big East Tournament is an annual tradition at MSG, which has hosted the tilt for the last 33 seasons, making it the longest running host site for any college basketball conference championship. The Nos. 7-10 seeds tip off on Wednesday, March 9 for the chance to play No. 1 seed Villanova and No. 2 seed Xavier, who stand on opposite sides of the bracket. The prospect of a Xavier-Villanova final on Saturday seems nearly foregone.
- Villanova Wildcats
- Xavier Musketeers
- Seton Hall Pirates
- Providence Friars
- Butler Bulldogs
- Creighton Bluejays
- Marquette Golden Eagles
- Georgetown Hoyas
- DePaul Blue Demons
- St. John's Red Storm
You can view the full bracket here.
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, March 9 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 8 Georgetown 70, No. 9 DePaul 53
Game 2: No. 7 Marquette 101, No. 10 St. John's 93
Thursday, March 10 (Quarterfinals)
Game 3: No. 1 Villanova 81, vs. No. 8 Georgetown 67
Game 4: No. 4 Providence 74, No. 5 Butler 60
Game 5: No. 2 Xavier 90, No. 7 Marquette 72
Game 6: No. 3 Seton Hall 81, No. 5 Creighton 73
Friday, March 11 (Semifinals)
Game 7: No. 1 Villanova 76, No. 4 Providence 68
Game 8: No. 3 Seton Hall 87, No. 2 Xavier 83
Saturday, March 12 (Finals)
Game 9: No. 3 Seton Hall 69, No. 1 Villanova 67
* * *
Best Tournament Player: Was it Carmelo Anthony or Christian Laettner?
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