"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Big East on the Bubble

 Creighton's recent resurgence is moving them away from the bubble
 Photo by Mark Hoffman | JSOnline.com

With about a month left in the regular season, the Big East has divided itself into three very clear tiers when it comes to NCAA Selection. Today we'll take a quick look at those tiers, with a special focus on the teams that are still fighting to get into the field.

Should Be In: Marquette, Xavier, Providence, Connecticut

None of them can lose out and get in, but all four are trending toward comfortable single-digit seeds and could finish with a protected seed with a strong finish.

MSG or Bust: Butler, DePaul, Georgetown

A dedicated Butler fan could argue the merits of wins over K-State and BYU, but they would have to win out and that simply doesn't look realistic. Dedicated DePaul or Georgetown fans couldn't even offer that much support to their at-large cases.

Strong Case: Creighton (13-8 / 7-3 Big East)

Six-game losing streaks tend to kill NCAA resumes, but Creighton has bounced back nicely. They are 7-2 since Ryan Kalkbrenner returned and 13-5 with him in the lineup. The only knock is their low resume average (44.5), but once they get selected their predictive average (10.0) and NET (18) push them far up the S-Curve. They are now featured in 76/77 brackets on bracketmatrix.com and they are in all 72 brackets updated since January 25th. This team is trending toward a single-digit seed and off the bubble. To feel safe, they need to go 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Fighting Chance: Seton Hall (13-9 / 6-5 Big East)

The real problem is the lack of depth at the top of the resume. Wins over UConn and Rutgers are great, but 4-8 in Quadrants 1+2 isn't. They need to get that mark closer to .500 but without losing any more stinkers like Siena. The good news, their only two banana peels left are at home against DePaul and Georgetown. Win those and go 4-3 in their other games and they might have enough to get in. Anything more and they are probably at least in Dayton. That's a tough task, but Seton Hall is the Big East's best shot at getting a sixth bid. To feel safe, they need to go 7-2 in their last 9 games.

On Life Support: Villanova (10-11 / 4-6 Big East)

The return of Justin Moore gives Villanova a bit of a new lease on life. If they can surge to an 8-2 finish they might have enough to argue they are a different team with Moore in the lineup. Especially considering they already went from 2-5 without Cam Whitmore to 8-5 from the freshman's return until Moore joined him on the court. It's also notable that seven of their ten remaining games are Quadrant 1. Finish strong and they would present a complicated case at the minimum. While off the bubble radar for now, if Villanova finishes 8-2 in their last 10, they'll be a talking point for the Selection Committee.

Pull the Plug: St. John's (14-8 / 4-7 Big East)

Cue the Monty Python "I'm not dead yet" scene. Their non-conference was a smoke and mirrors record built on nine of eleven games being Q3+4. They started 1-5 in the Big East and looked to be finished, but then beat UConn on the road, which is one of the best on-paper wins any team in the country has. But they followed that up with losses to Villanova and Creighton. They need to go 7-2 in their last 9 to get in the conversation, and even that might not be enough.

Let's take a look at the current S-Curve and bracket:

Multibid Leagues

Big 10: 8

Big 12: 8

ACC: 7

SEC: 6

Big East: 5

Mountain West: 4

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

West Coast: 2

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