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Big East Tournament 2019: Conference's Top Threats to Outlast Villanova

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2019

Eric Paschall will play a key role if Villanova can make a run in the Big East tournament.
Eric Paschall will play a key role if Villanova can make a run in the Big East tournament.John Minchillo/Associated Press

The Big East Tournament appears to belong to defending NCAA champion Villanova and Marquette. 

The Wildcats and the Golden Eagles were the top two teams in the regular season, as Villanova won the league title with a 13-5 record, while Marquette was second with a 12-6 record.

After those outfits, the Big East appears to have little to offer. Georgetown, Seton Hall, Xavier and Creighton are all tied for third place with 9-9 records. The regular-season conference standings were quite ordinary, and there did not appear to be any standout teams this season.

                     

Big East Tournament Schedule, March 13-16

All Times ET. 

Wednesday, March 13

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No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Butler (7 p.m., FS1) 

No. 7 St. John's vs. No. 10 DePaul (9:30 p.m., FS1)             

              

Thursday, March 14

No. 1 Villanova vs. Winner of No. 8 vs. No. 9 (Noon, FS1) 

No. 4 Xavier vs. No. 5 Creighton (2:30 p.m., FS1) 

No. 2 Marquette vs. Winner of No. 7 vs. No. 10 (7 p.m., FS1) 

No. 3 Seton Hall vs. No. 6 Georgetown (9:30 p.m., FS1)                

             

Friday, March 15

Semifinal No. 1 (6:30 p.m., FS1) 

Semifinal No. 2 (9 p.m., FS1)                

              

Saturday, March 16 

Championship game (6:30 p.m., Fox)

            

As the top seed, Villanova is the team to beat, but the Wildcats are nothing like the team that won the national title a year ago.

They are vulnerable and go into the tournament having lost four of their past six games, including a 79-75 decision to Seton Hall in the regular-season finale.

The key to Villanova's success is guard Phil Booth's ability to produce consistently. He is averaging 18.7 points and 3.9 assists per game. Teammate Eric Paschall is scoring 16.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Marquette has the best chance to take down Villanova as the No. 2 seed, but the Golden Eagles come into the tournament having lost four games in a row.

That's an issue, as the Golden Eagles have been struggling on offense, but they will open the tournament by playing the winner of the opening-round game between St. John's and DePaul. Marquette should be able to survive that game, and once that happens, the Golden Eagles become a legitimate threat to win the tournament.

Marquette is led by Markus Howard, an explosive scorer who is averaging 24.9 points per game. He is getting help from forward Sam Hauser, who is scoring 15.1 points per game.

Georgetown comes into the tournament having won three of its past four games and the confidence of having taken down Marquette on the road in the regular-season finale.

Center Jesse Govan is averaging 17.9 points per game for the Hoyas, and he is contributing 7.7 rebounds per night. Freshmen Mac McClung and James Akinjo are also playing key roles in the offense. McClung is scoring 13.0 points per night, while Akinjo is averaging 12.9 points per night.

Seton Hall may have the best chance of taking down the Wildcats. The Pirates defeated Marquette and Villanova in back-to-back games, and this team clearly believes in itself as it fights for a long run in the conference tournament and a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Myles Powell is Seton Hall's go-to scorer, and he comes into the Big East tournament averaging 22.7 points per game. Myles Cale is providing scoring help, averaging 10.1 points per night.

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