We are approaching February, so for college basketball that means it is time to start thinking ahead to the NCAA Tournament. In this post, we will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Big East teams who are tournament contenders. Will Marquette find a way to make the tournament in 2016?
Villanova– The Wildcats currently sit at 18-3 overall, in first place in the Big East, and are currently projected as a number one seed for the tournament. This is a program that has always been built on tremendous perimeter play and this season is no different. The Wildcats have a quartet of fantastic perimeter players, led by junior guard Josh Hart. They have plenty of guards, and they can all make things happen. With this team once again it is the age old question; do they have enough size that can make a difference come tournament time? I think the answer is no.
Xavier– The Musketeers currently sit at 18-2 overall and in second place in the Big East. Xavier currently projects as a number two seed for the tournament. The Musketeers have a trio of really good guards led by sophomore Trevor Bluiett. Unlike Villanova, the Musketeers have some skilled big men who protect the paint such as James Farr and Jalen Reynolds. This is a very dangerous team. They don’t do any one particular thing better than anyone else, but they don’t really have any big holes either. This is a nice balanced team.
Providence– The Flyers currently sit at 18-4, ranked 10thin the nation, and are the projected 5 seed in the South Region. Providence is led by one of the premier big men in America, sophomore forward Ben Bentil, who is averaging 20.3 points per game to go along with 8.1 rebounds per game. They also have a very talented do it all point guard in junior Kris Dunn. I see two problems with this team though, first of all depth. They have a few really good players at the top of their roster, and then not much after that. Second, it’s a lack of experience. It has been a long time since this program was this good. I expect next season to be the one for this program, so basically, one more year Flyers fans.
Georgetown– The Hoyas currently sit at 13-9 in the Big East and are on the outside looking in to the tournament. They are still in it, but they have a lot of work to do in between now and tournament time due to their poor out of conference performance. Yes the Hoyas have a couple of nice guards, but honestly, there is not much about this team I like at the moment, and I don’t see this team getting close to the tournament.
Seton Hall– The Pirates currently stand at 15-6 and are one of the last four in according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. This is the first time in a long time, 2006 in fact, since the Pirates have sniffed the tournament. This team is led by a bunch of talented sophomores, specifically guard Isaiah Whitehead and forward Khadeen Carrington. Are they better suited for guard or perimeter play? Check. Are they skilled big men? Check. How about their depth? Check. How about their experience? That’s their big problem. None of these players on this team has any real postseason experience, so this year is still a learning year.
Creighton– The Blue Jays currently sit at 14-8, and is on the outside looking into the tournament at the moment. They are in the same position as Georgetown, they are still in it, but they have a lot of work to do. They are also very much like Georgetown in that there is not much I like about this team and I don’t think this is a tournament team, at all.
Marquette– The Golden Eagles currently sit at 15-7 overall, and are also on the outside looking into the tournament at the moment. They don’t have as much work to do as Georgetown or Creighton though, so that is a help to their cause. Marquette has one of the best freshmen in the country in forward Henry Ellenson, who is averaging nearly 17 points per game and over 10 rebounds per game. Ellenson currently stands as the 4th pick overall in the 2016 NBA Lottery. Overall Marquette has a lot of inexperienced freshman and sophomores, so the question is how fast can they all grow up?
Butler– The Bulldogs currently stand at 14-7 and are the 10 seed in the South Region. The reason as to why this team is in the tournament at the moment unlike a bunch of teams above them in the Big East standings is because they have a better resume. The Bulldogs have a pair of big time out of conference wins, one on the road against Cincinnati, and the other at home against Purdue. The Bulldogs are a scrappy, scrappy bunch, just like they always have been. This team has fantastic guard play and can defend with the best of them. Question is size just like it always is with this team, of course, their lack of size didn’t affect them on their way to back to back national championship game appearances.