The 2014 Big East tournament is shaping up to be one of the premier postseason conference tourneys in the country, as five of the 10 participants have 20 or more wins and every school in the field is capable of catching fire and making a championship run.
This isn’t your standard Big East tournament, as new faces Butler and Creighton will be looking to make an impression against stalwarts like top-seeded Villanova and third-seeded Xavier.
Let’s take a look at which teams will be taking part of the action on Day 1 of this thrilling event, plus highlight where you can watch and live stream every game and make some predictions on the outcomes.
Schedule and Viewing Guide
|Game No.||Teams||Date||Time (ET)||TV Info||Prediction|
|1||No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 Butler||Wed., March 12||7 pm||Fox Sports 1||BUT 66 - HALL 60|
|2||No. 7 Georgetown vs. No. 10 DePaul||Wed., March 12||9:30 pm||Fox Sports 1||GTWN 70 - DEP 62|
|Game No.||Teams||Date||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|3||No. 1 Villanova vs. G1 Winner||Thu., March 13||12 pm||Fox Sports 1|
|4||No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 St. John's||Thu., March 13||2:30 pm||Fox Sports 1|
|5||No. 2 Creighton vs. G2 Winner||Thu., March 13||7 pm||Fox Sports 1|
|6||No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 6 Marquette||Thu., March 13||9:30 pm||Fox Sports 1|
|7||G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner||Fri., March 14||7 pm||Fox Sports 1|
|8||G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner||Fri., March 14||9:30 pm||Fox Sports 1|
|9||G7 Winner vs. G8 Winner||Sat., March 15||8:30 pm||Fox Sports 1|
*The Big East tournament will be live streamed on Fox Sports Go.
Here is the Big East Tournament bracket for next week: pic.twitter.com/qQtRoLaoTm— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) March 9, 2014
*Full tournament bracket can be found on BigEast.com.
Day 1 In-Depth Predictions
No. 9 Butler over No. 8 Seton Hall
Butler’s inaugural Big East season was tough at times, as the once prominent mid-major program seemed lost at times.
Which team do you think will win this contest?
It’s tough to fault the Bulldogs, as they had to navigate an unfamiliar schedule without elite former head coach Brad Stevens, now with the Boston Celtics, and a host of familiar faces on the court—such as Rotnei Clark and Andrew smith.
It resulted in a mediocre 14-16 (4-14 Big East) campaign and a first-round matchup with a familiar Seton Hall squad, which went 15-16 (6-12 Big East) in 2013-14.
The Pirates may have fared better in the conference and overall compared to the Bulldogs, but struggled to beat this team the two times they matched up during the regular season.
Butler claimed the first meeting in New Jersey, riding a 13-point performance from Khyle Marshall to finish off a 64-57 victory back in late January.
The Bulldogs easily defended their home court on Senior Day over a month later, crushing Seton Hall on March 8, 71-54, after Kellen Dunham knocked in all seven of his three-point shots in a 29-point outburst.
According to ButlerSports.com, head coach Brandon Miller was thrilled with his team’s performance in the victory, telling reporters after the game:
I'm extremely proud of our guys' effort. I thought our mind-set and our approach from the very start was exactly where it needed to be. We came out with an energy about us. It always helps when you go eight for eight from three-point range to start the game, but along with making shots, we defended.
With an average margin of victory of 12 points over Seton Hall during the current campaign, it’s not unreasonable to expect Butler to complete the sweep in the Big East tournament. The Bulldogs are riding a two-game winning streak as they prepare to play the Pirates for the second straight time.
While Jay Wright, the head coach of Villanova, spoke about the strength of both these teams to J.P. Pelzman of The Record, Butler seems to be the better one at this moment:
Jay Wright on Butler and Seton Hall: 'there's nobody in the country that would want to play one of those teams for a one-and-done game'— J.P. Pelzman (@JPPelzman) March 10, 2014
Seton Hall had a poor close to the year, losing four of its last five and and seven of its last nine. That is the worst sort of momentum to have in March and will ultimately cost the Pirates on Wednesday.
No. 7 Georgetown over No. 10 DePaul
The Hoyas (17-13, 8-10 Big East) are one of the most intriguing teams in their conference, as they won 17 games during the 2013-14 campaign but finished less than .500 in the Big East.
Which team will win this matchup?
Their reward for this finish is a showdown with DePaul, the worst team in the conference but nonetheless still extremely dangerous and a major obstacle for Georgetown to navigate past if it wants to advance to the second round.
However, Georgetown proved it could dispatch this opponent soundly on two occasions during the regular season. The Hoyas took care of business at home on New Years Eve behind Markel Starks’ 21-point outburst, then travelled to Rosemont and smashed the Blue Demons thanks to Stark’s 26 points on Feb. 3.
Starks, a senior guard, is a special talent that averaged 17.1 points on the season and it seemed he saved some of his best performances for DePaul. He was recently named first-team All-Big East, an accomplishment which assistant coach Kevin Sutton said he was proud of:
So very proud of our backcourt for the awards they've earned: Sr Markel Starks 1st Team & Soph D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera 2nd Team All Big-East.— Kevin Sutton (@CoachSutton) March 10, 2014
The high-volume scorer stands just 6’1”, but is more than capable of taking over a game. The Hoyas can beat anyone, especially a lowly program like the Demon Deacons, when he’s feeling it.
Don’t be surprised if Starks lights it up once again when he plays under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in New York City. He last showed out there against Michigan State Feb. 1, as Stark’s 16 points helped his squad overcome the then-No. 7 ranked Spartans.
DePaul simply won’t have an answer for Starks and the Blue Demons and will be quickly eliminated on Wednesday.