Who Needs to Win at MSG to Dance?

Villanova has lost four of their last six, Marquette has lost four in a row, and with that, the Big East Tournament is expected to be wide open.

Nevertheless, those top two seeds are headed to the NCAA tournament no matter what happens this week in Madison Square Garden. There are five other programs though that come in firmly on the bubble, four of whom went 9-9 in Big East play and a fifth that won 20 games this season.

In order to ascertain just how much work those respective teams have to do in order to punch their ticket to the field of 68, we consulted the work of three bracketologists – ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, and Brad Wachtel, an independent but often times more accurate bracketologist.

 

Seton Hall

Record: 18-12 overall, 9-9 Big East (6-7 Quad 1, 6-3 Quad 2, 3-2 Quad 3, 3-0 Quad 4) Strength of Schedule: 36

Brad Wachtel projects them as a 9 seed (firmly in)

Joe Lunardi projects them as an 11 seed (one of the last 8 teams in)

Jerry Palm projects them as a 10 seed

The Pirates are the third seed in the Big East tournament and in good shape according to all three experts. Wachtel and Palm’s projections would have Kevin Willard’s club going dancing no matter what happens next week. Lunardi’s projections are very optimistic as well, but create a glimmer of doubt should Seton Hall lose their opener to Georgetown and a couple of other bid-stealers emerge from other conferences.

 

Xavier

Record: 17-14 overall, 9-9 Big East (4-8 Quad 1, 4-4 Quad 2, 3-2 Quad 3, 6-0 Quad 4)

Strength of Schedule: 47

Brad Wachtel projects them as 8th team out of the field

Joe Lunardi projects them as being out (by more than 8 teams)

Jerry Palm projects them as being out (by more than 4 teams)

They earned the fourth seed in the Big East tournament but still have more work to do to crack the field of 68. In fact, all three experts not only have the Musketeers out, but firmly out at that. They’ll need a quarterfinal win over Creighton at minimum. A semifinal win over Villanova would likely punch their ticket, while a win over either Providence or Butler in the semifinal might not move the needle enough according to current projections.

 

Creighton

Record: 18-13 overall, 9-9 Big East (3-10 Quad 1, 6-3 Quad 2, 5-0 Quad 3, 3-0 Quad 4)

Strength of Schedule: 13

Brad Wachtel projects them as a 12 seed (one of last 4 in)

Joe Lunardi projects them as one of the first 4 out

Jerry Palm projects them as a 12 seed (one of last 4 in)

Creighton has played their best basketball late in the season and played their way into the field of 68 according to two of the three of the experts. What’s undeniable is that they have zero margin for error. A win over Xavier in the quarterfinals should solidify their fate, but if they were to fall to the Musketeers they would undoubtedly be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

 

Georgetown

Record: 19-12 overall, 9-9 Big East

Strength of Schedule: 81 (5-6 Quad 1, 6-4 Quad 2, 1-2 Quad 3, 7-0 Quad 4)

Brad Wachtel projects them as 6th teams out of the field

Joe Lunardi projects them as out of the field (by more than 8 teams)

Jerry Palm projects them as out of the field (by more than 4 teams)

Despite their 19 wins, Georgetown is unanimously out of the field at the present moment as their non-conference schedule remains a liability. A win over 3rd seeded Seton Hall would certainly move the needle, but whether or not that alone would prove to be enough remains to be seen. Should they make a run to the finals, knocking off Seton Hall and then either Marquette, St. John’s or DePaul, it’s hard to imagine them in the NIT a week later.

 

St. John’s

Record: 20-11 overall, 8-10 Big East (5-6 Quad 1, 5-3 Quad 2, 2-2 Quad 3, 8-0 Quad 4)

Strength of Schedule: 77

Brad Wachtel projects them as an 11 seed (one of last 6 in)

Joe Lunardi projects them as a 10 seed

Jerry Palm projects them as an 11 seed

They’re the 7th seed in the Big East tournament, and playing in the opening round as a result, but nonetheless currently projected as in the field. Their game against DePaul is a must-win while a win over Marquette in the quarterfinal should solidify their spot. Should they beat DePaul but lose to Marquette, the experts believe they would likely still be in but it would nonetheless be too close for comfort.