The Big East has been unpredictable all year, so the league's postseason tournament will surely be one to watch this weekend. Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame and Georgetown have qualified for the league tournament, leaving teams like St. John's without hope for a postseason berth in the NCAA bracket.
The games this weekend will not only decide the automatic qualifier for the conference, but will also give the other teams an opportunity to boost their resume as selection Sunday approaches.
Lets take a look at five questions that will be answered at the Big East Tournament:
1. Will Notre Dame stay true to their postseason reputation?
Notre Dame has an impressive résumé as it enters the league tournament. Despite a loss to rival Syracuse at the Big City Classic last weekend, Notre Dame always plays big in postseason games.
The Irish are known for strong defense and goaltending in one-and-done scenarios, with the offense doing just enough to win close games. Senior goalie John Kemp is one of the best in the business, and his supporting cast on the defensive end looked vulnerable against Syracuse. If Notre Dame wants to make a run, it must once again come up big on the defensive side of the ball. It all starts with Kemp.
2. Can Villanova overcome early-season woes to gain a berth in the NCAA tournament?
Villanova had a horrendous start to the 2013 season, going 2-6 before turning it around when it entered Big East play. 'Nova was able to win the regular-season title outright, giving the Wildcats the opportunity to play another day.
If Villanova is ousted in the first round, it will finish the season at 6-8 and ineligible for the NCAA tournament. However, if the Wildcats can win the Big East Tournament this weekend, their conference will get three teams in the tournament and leave other conferences struggling for at-large spots.
Who will win the Big East tournament?
3. Can Syracuse play consistently down the stretch?
Syracuse looked great at MetLife Stadium against Notre Dame. The Orange were able to handle the Irish offense while proving strong enough to get by the talented ND defense. Syracuse was primed for a top-two seed in the NCAA tournament until it lost a shocker at home to Hobart.
The game against Hobart showed their instability, something they must overcome as they face more formidable opponents. If Syracuse plays like it did against Notre Dame, it should win the conference title and be a contender for the No. 3 seed in the bracket. Their senior-laden offense should outscore many opponents, but a run-in with a hot goalie could send the Orange packing.
4. Does Georgetown deserve to be there?
As the St. John's lacrosse team sits at home watching its league tournament, rival Georgetown will be suiting up in the first round. Georgetown has a losing record and is not impressive on film. Early in the season, St. John's looked to be a real contender among the nation's elite, but have since taken a dive off the deep end.
Georgetown has an opportunity to start over and prove itself this weekend, but a blowout loss in the first round would certainly make it seem as though the Hoyas were not worthy of any postseason consideration.
5. Will Notre Dame get the top seed in the NCAA tournament if they win the Big East?
UNC has already won the ACC crown in the toughest league in the nation. Cornell has an opportunity to win the Ivy League this weekend and lock up a high seed in the bracket. However, if Cornell falls in the semifinals of the Ivy tournament to Princeton, Notre Dame could find itself in the driver's seat on selection Sunday.
The Irish's résumé is fantastic, and would be further boosted by two big victories this weekend. If the Irish win the Big East, don't be surprised if the selection committee puts them at the top of the pack.