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Monday, January 29, 2024

Bracketology: Big East Check-In

Marquette & UConn are in excellent NCAA position
 Photo by Porter Binks | gomarquette.com

With the exception of DePaul and Georgetown at the bottom of the league, the Big East still has 9 teams that could realistically be considered to have NCAA expectations as we come to the end of January. Today we're going to check in on where they are and what they have to do to get to the NCAA Tournament.

UConn: The Huskies are currently #2 on the S-Curve and in position for a 1-seed. They picked up right where they left off last year and even if they slip should be in position for a protected seed in March. Their final six games will determine their destination, as they face Marquette twice, road games at Creighton and Providence, and a rematch with Seton Hall, who gave them their lone Big East loss.

Marquette: Marquette is a solid 2-seed at the moment, moving ahead of Kansas even before this past Saturday when MU had a decisive win over Seton Hall while Kansas lost at Iowa State. With 4 of their next 5 on the road, this is a pivotal time. Barring collapse, Marquette probably has a floor of a 3-seed at this point. If Marquette can go 2-1 against Villanova, Butler, and UConn, while taking care of business, they will solidify their place as a 2-seed. Win them all and they might push their way into discussion for a 1-seed. To get there and stay there, Marquette can likely lose no more than one Big East game from here on out and probably needs at least one Big East title in their hands on Selection Sunday.

Creighton: The Jays are currently a 3-seed and will play a big part in shaping the Big East's Selection Sunday. They played the two toughest and two easiest road games in the league but still have Providence, Butler, St. John's, Xavier, and Villanova away. If they want to stay where they are or get in the mix for a 2-seed, they need to go 3-2 or better in those games. If they slip up, their seed could fall, but the league as a whole might benefit from those programs getting resume wins.

St. John's has separated themselves from the bubble pack...for now
 Photo by Wendell Cruz | USA Today Sports

St. John's: The Johnnies sit at #28 on the S-Curve, our last 7-seed. Not playing this past weekend helped as so many teams ahead of them lost. St. John's needs to get to 11-9 in Big East play to feel confident of a bid, meaning they need to go 6-5 the rest of the way. The good news for St. John's? They can get four of those wins against DePaul and Georgetown, whom they haven't face yet. They could use another signature win as well, so winning one of their three shots at the big boys would really polish the resume. That starts Saturday when UConn visits MSG.

Providence: The Friars looked to be falling out of the field after losing 4 straight without Bryce Hopkins, but a 38-point win at DePaul and 3 game winning streak has them back in the field as a 10-seed. Like St. John's, they probably need to go 6-5 the rest of the way to feel comfortable. With wins over Wisconsin and Marquette, they have the quality part covered, but adding another road win that isn't Georgetown would also help.

Seton Hall: This is the last team currently in the field from the Big East, sitting in a play-in 11-seed position. With wins over UConn and Marquette, the quality portion is covered, but Seton Hall didn't need a 3-game losing streak. The good news is their next two are DePaul and Georgetown. Their lackluster non-con means they need to out-perform their Big East rivals to get a bid. The Pirates need to go 6-4 down the stretch to stay in the mix.

Butler seized NCAA momentum from a fading Villanova
 Photo by Grace Hollars | IndyStar

Butler: Sitting at 6-5 in the league with wins over Boise State, Texas Tech, and at Marquette, the Bulldogs are in position to get into position. But as 5-5 in league play hasn't been enough to get them in, they probably need to be slightly better in the back half of their schedule. The drawback is that 3 of their 5 wins are against DePaul and Georgetown, so they only have one of those left. 6-4 will do it, which means protecting home court and beating DePaul on the road. There's still a path for Butler.

Villanova: If you're looking for Villanova on the S-Curve, you can stop looking. The loss at Butler dropped their resume average to 63.5, which is significantly lower than 2022 Rutgers, who set a record with the lowest resume average to get in at 56.5. If the tourney started today, the Wildcats would not be in, full stop. The loss took them from the top 10-seed to our 12th team out. Comparing them to that Rutgers team, 2022 Rutgers was 7-7 against Q1 with 4 wins in Q1A and 3 losses outside the first two quadrants. Nova already has the losses, but probably needs to go 7-4 the rest of the way, but more important 4-2 in their six remaining Q1 games. That starts Tuesday against Marquette.

Xavier: The Musketeers are lying in a coffin, waiting for their last rites after a 33-point beatdown at UConn. With a pair of bad losses, they need wins over tourney teams if they are to have a chance. If Xavier got hot and finished 8-3, they would likely move into the field, but more important they need wins over teams in the field. No one will hold the 4 losses to 1-seeds (Purdue, Houston, UConn twice) against them, but their only wins over teams currently in are St. Mary's, Seton Hall, and Providence, all on the 9-line or lower. Xavier has 4 games left against teams currently in and in addition to going 8-3, probably needs to go 2-2 in those to have a shot.

Let's look at the updated S-Curve and bracket:

Multibid Leagues

Big 12: 10

SEC: 8

Big East: 6

Big 10: 6

Mountain West: 5

Pac-12: 4

ACC: 3

American: 2

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