If the Marquette Golden Eagles take care of business this weekend, they will have at the very least a share of the Big East regular season title. That was the goal coming in to the season and the final two teams standing in their way are Seton Hall and St. John’s. Seton Hall is currently in sixth at 7-9 while St. John’s is one spot ahead of them in fifth at 9-7 in the conference. We’ll get to breaking them down in a second, but before that, I want to talk Big East tournament scenarios.
As it currently stands, DePaul and Marquette are in a tie for first at 13-3 in conference play. They are followed by Creighton (11-5), Villanova (10-6), St. John’s (9-7), Seton Hall (7-9), and Georgetown (7-9). Butler (6-11), Providence (3-13), and Xavier (2-15) round out the Big East in the eighth, ninth, and tenth position. Even though I just gave them to you, you can check out the standings right here.
The question boils down to who does the Golden Eagles want to avoid in the quarter-final round of the conference tournament, which will be their first game. It’s a rather silly question at this point, because they are flying high as winners of their last four games. It’s safe to say that their opponent in the quarter-finals doesn’t matter because of how good they’ve been as of late. But hey, we got to have something to talk about and it’s fun to break this stuff down so here we go!
I’ll start from the bottom and go upward. Started from the bottom, now we here. Sorry, had to make that reference. I’m also going to act as if the higher seeded team will beat the lower seeded team for my predictions. Very dangerous I know but I’m playing the odds here. The first round of games pits the #7 and #10 seed which is currently Georgetown and Xavier and the #8 and #9 seed which is currently Butler and Providence. Important to note that the Hoyas and the Pirates are currently tied with a 7-9 Big East record so they could very well flip spots this weekend, especially with Seton Hall having to play both Marquette and DePaul. Georgetown’s last two games are against Creighton (likely a loss) and Providence (likely a win). Assuming Seton Hall loses both of their games, they will be the #7 seed and Georgetown will be the #6. This is bigly for the Hoyas because it means an automatic berth to the quarterfinals.
Butler still has an outside chance of making the top 6 but its unlikely because they only have one more regular season game. It’s a winnable game but they have to hope that both Seton Hall and Georgetown lose their last to games to even have a shot. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll chalk them up as an 8 seed and have them beating Providence in the first round. Likewise, I think Seton Hall will take care of Xavier and get into the quarterfinals.
This is where things get tricky because the middle of the pack is tightly packed together. The 3-5 seeds are Creighton, Villanova, St. John’s in that order. Creighton’s last two games come at Georgetown (probable win) and at Villanova (toss up). Villanova is home to Providence and Creighton, while St. John’s is home to DePaul and Marquette...tough luck for the Johnnies. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Creighton will win out (they’ve won four in a row) which means Villanova will likely go 1-1. St. John’s will probably (hopefully?) lose out and finish 9-9. If everything happens like I predicted, the 3-5 seeds stay the same.
I’m just spitballing here because someone has to. Anyhow, in the quarterfinals according to the standings I just created, Creighton will play Georgetown, Villanova will play St. John’s, and if Marquette and DePaul win out (fingers crossed DePaul is upset by either the Johnnies or the Pirates) then MU will take on Seton Hall and DePaul will play Butler. Woo that was a lot... how about a nice buzzer beater shall we?
Good times. Anyway back to predicting the Big East tournament. Essentially, Marquette would be in good shape if they avoid Georgetown and Creighton, if for no other reason than just because those are their two losses other than DePaul. Unfortunately, if all my calculations are correct, they’ll have to play one of these teams in the semis if (when?) they get past the Pirates. But rest assured Marquette fans, because they most recently dominated Georgetown (at least in the fourth quarter) and I don’t expect them to lose to Creighton twice. Head coach Carolyn Kieger will find a way to pick the Bluejays apart like Marquette did in Omaha this season and come out with a victory. It was a heartbreaking home loss after all, as the Golden Eagles lost their first and only home game of the season 74-73 to Creighton. So yeah, let’s bank on that not happening again.
What I’m trying to say is Marquette and DePaul will play in the Big East conference championship for the second year in a row. It’s too bad the game is in Wintrust Arena so the Blue Demons will have home-court advantage. OR WILL THEY since there are lots of Marquette fans in Chicago and they’ve yet to get more than 6,000 people into Wintrust for a women’s game? But hey, another chance for MU to improve their resume and get higher than a #7 or #8 seed which they’re currently projected at. Check out the latest bracketology update with Brewtown Andy’s article here. Let me just say this and then I’ll briefly preview the weekend opponents: Marquette is getting robbed and deserves a higher seed.
Moving on then and I’ll make this quick since you’ve probably stopped reading by now...
Big East Game #17: at Seton Hall (15-12, 7-9 Big East)
Seton Hall got blown out by St. John’s in their last game, 75-56, and have lost three straight. The only reason they are dangerous is because they are fighting for that #6 seed with Georgetown, and they have an impressive home record at 11-4. It will be a close one, but I fully expect MU to pull through because they know what’s on the line.
Leading scorer: JaQuan Jackson, 11.7 points per game
Assist leader: Inja Butina with 95 on the year
Rebounding leader: Shadeem Samuels with 171 on the year
Steals leader: Inja Butina with 45 on the year
Blocks leader: Kimi Evans with 26 on the year
Big East Game #18: at St. Johns (16-11, 9-7 Big East)
The Red Storm recently blew out Seton Hall and have won four of their last five contests. They will play DePaul on Friday before taking on Marquette to close out the regular season for both squads. No doubt this will be a difficult match-up because St. John’s will be fighting for a #4 or #3 seed. They will have to beat DePaul first though, which will be a tall mountain to climb. Like I said earlier: it’s crunch time and the Golden Eagles know what’s up. I expect them to close out the season with a win.
Leading scorer: Qadashah Hoppie (greatest name in college basketball?), 11.2 points per game
Assists leader: Tiana England with 148 on the year
Rebounding leader: Maya Singleton, 11.3 per game
Steals leader: Maya Singleton with 50 on the year
Blocks leader: Maya Singleton with 33 on the year