I'm not going to lie to you: I had a hard time getting excited about two games between four teams where three of the teams - Georgetown, Xavier, and Providence - combined for just 1 more win in league play (9) than the fourth team, Seton Hall had (8). But now that last night's doubleheader on DePaul's campus is over, the Big East women's basketball tournament moves to the Allstate Arena for the next three days, including the four games that make up today's quarterfinal round.
I'm of the opinion that from this point forward in the tournament, no one is truly safe. Regular season champion DePaul lost three times this season, once each on the road to Creighton and Marquette and also at home to St. John's. Everyone else lost at least five games, giving everyone a wide variety of potential losses in a multi-day, one-and-done format.
Let's take a look at the matchups for today and make some wild predictions. All of the games are being streamed for free by the Big East, and you can find the links for that and for live stats for each game on BigEast.com.
GAME 1: #2 St. John's vs #7 Seton Hall
When: Noon Central
Season Series: St. John's won, 2-0 (72-63 & 69-48)
Well, okay, maybe the Red Storm doesn't have much to worry about. Then again, it has been over a month since these two teams locked up, and in the meantime, St. John's took a massive nosedive, while Seton Hall has won four of their last six, including the win over Providence in the opening round yesterday. St. John's survived a scary moment for their rotation in their most recent game against Marquette when Eugeneia McPherson went out after just two minutes with a leg injury, but she played 29 minutes the next time out and 21 minutes in their blowout win over Providence, so it seems like she'll be okay.
GAME 2: #3 Creighton vs #6 Butler
When: 2:30pm Central
Season Series: Butler won, 2-0 (58-52 & 67-59)
This is one of three quarterfinal games that rematches two teams that played each other on Tuesday night on the final day of the regular season. While the Bulldogs took care of business between these two Big East newcomers during the regular season, the Bluejays came away with the better record across 18 games. Weird, right? A check of the box scores from their two match ups shows that Big East Player of the Year Marissa Janning had just eight points the first go around, but when things shifted to Omaha for the regular season finale, Janning scraped together a 20/5/6 performance in the losing effort.
GAME 3: #1 DePaul vs #8 Georgetown
When: 6pm Central
Season Series: DePaul won, 2-0 (92-69 & 91-74)
Ok, maybe I spoke a little too soon on the "no one is safe" issue. Odds are that the Blue Demons are going to be able to find a way to issue another 17+ point win to the Hoyas, especially since that second win over Georgetown came just this past Tuesday. In the first meeting, DePaul used a big second half to run away from Georgetown as all five starters scored in double figures. In the season finale, the Blue Demons already had the regular season title in their back pocket, but they still jumped out to a lead early and built on it in the second half. DePaul kept Natalie Butler from a double-double in the first meeting, but the Big East Freshman of the Year had 15 points and 13 rebounds in the second go-round.
GAME 4: #4 Villanova vs #5 Marquette
When: 8:30pm Central
Season Series: Villanova won, 2-0 (63-61 & 81-64)
This is the third and final rematch of last Tuesday's final regular season day. I would like to think that Marquette has learned a lesson from that game, as they were never in it as Emily Leer turned into a white hot greasefire of pure entertainment in the first half. The Golden Eagles had a lead late in the first meeting before the Coyer sisters outscored Marquette on their own down the stretch. I honestly think that any of the top five seeds in the tournament are capable of winning the whole shebang, and that this might actually be the hardest match up for MU, as they split the season series with the other three teams.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: I'm taking Creighton to win the whole tournament. Yes, they struggled away from the Sokol Center this season. But St. John's had that nasty losing streak down the stretch, and DePaul will be playing in the cavernous Allstate Arena instead of at Phillips-McGrath Arena where they enjoyed the biggest crowds in the Big East this season. I also think that Creighton will be wanting to show their best side with Marissa Janning coming away with Player of the Year honors.