The top-seeded Villanova Wildcats (28-3, 15-3 Big East) still managed to win the national championship last season despite losing the Big East tournament championship game.
The Wildcats are overwhelming -130 favorites (bet $130 to win $100) to get the job done this year, though, at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.
Villanova fell to the third-seeded Seton Hall Pirates, 69-67, as a six-point favorite in the 2016 Big East title game before reeling off six consecutive wins to earn the school’s second national championship. This season, the Wildcats put together yet another stellar campaign, losing just one more game in conference play than they did last year.
The second-seeded Butler Bulldogs (23-7, 12-6) are also the second choice to win the Big East tournament at +450 (bet $100 to win $450), and they handed Villanova two of their three losses.
The Bulldogs were the fifth seed last season and fell to the fourth-seeded Providence Friars, 74-60, in the quarterfinals before getting an opportunity to play the Wildcats in the semis. This year, Butler would not have to play Villanova until the finals but could meet up with the Friars again in the semis if both teams advance.
Providence (20-11, 10-8) earned the No. 3 seed this season even though the team lost its two best players to the NBA in point guard Kris Dunn and center Ben Bentil. The Friars are +2500 to win the Big East tournament at online betting sites this year and ride a six-game winning streak into their quarterfinal matchup with the sixth-seeded Creighton Bluejays (23-8, 10-8), who are listed at +550.
Providence and Creighton split two meetings during the regular season, with each team winning on the other’s home court.
The fourth-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles (19-11, 10-8) are another contender to watch because they are the only other team in the country to defeat the Wildcats this year.
Marquette upset Villanova, 74-72, as a 5.5-point home underdog on the college basketball point spreads on January 24 and has won four of five both straight up and against the spread going into the tournament. The Golden Eagles are the fourth betting choice to win the Big East tournament at +900.