Inside the Bracket: Big East tourney big for Marquette
The mammoth 16-team Big East Tournament begins at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. First-round outcomes could be important for at least two teams – perhaps more. Here’s a quick look …
Marquette opens with Providence. The Golden Eagles are still on bubble. While a loss doesn’t eliminate them, it would create an opening for Marquette to be passed on the S-Curve. The closer a team is to the actual cutline (at-large team No. 37), the greater the chance of being bumped. Could be the result of a conference tournament upset or another team’s resume surpassing the Golden Eagles’ profile. One stat of concern is Marquette’s 11-13 mark vs the RPI Top 200 (according to CollegeRPI.com). A losing record against the Top 200 has sometimes been problematic for at-large selection. Every year is different, but a loss Tuesday would drop MU to 11-14 against that margin.
Villanova has lost four straight heading into its Big East tourney opener with South Florida. The Wildcats are going to the NCAA tournament but their final seeding remains very much in doubt. A loss Tuesday could drop Villanova into an 8-9 game – which makes advancing past the first weekend much more difficult. It will probably take a least two wins to move the Wildcats above a 7 seed.
Elsewhere … Butler plays at Milwaukee for the Horizon League title. Milwaukee defeated Butler in two close games during the regular season so a third loss might be difficult for the Bulldogs to overcome. Princeton can clinch the Ivy League title with a win at Pennsylvania. A loss sets up one-game playoff with Harvard on Saturday. In the Sun Belt, Arkansas-Little Rock and North Texas tangle for an NCAA bid – the winner a 15-16 seed. Oakland and Oral Roberts square off for the Summit League championship.