Villanova (22-9, 13-5 Big East) has a loss to Xavier (17-14, 9-9), who also defeated St. John’s (20-11, 8-10) twice, but lost a league-worst six Big East games in a row.
Marquette (23-8, 12-6) enters the Big East Tournament with four straight losses, including one at home to Georgetown (19-12, 9-9), who got blown out by 32 points against DePaul (15-14, 7-11) three days earlier.
Seton Hall (18-12, 9-9) dropped three in a row to Xavier, St. John’s and Georgetown, respectively, but managed to defeat Marquette and Villanova consecutively to end their regular season.
It doesn’t make any sense, but it is March Madness after all.
The Big East is likely looking at three to five NCAA Tournament teams, barring a miraculous - but not improbable given the nature of the conference - run from anyone not named Villanova, Marquette or Seton Hall.
In all likelihood, St. John’s and Georgetown will be joining The Dance, but given their recent inconsistencies, a game one loss in the conference tournament for either Big East mainstay could throw their aspirations into oblivion.
For St. John’s, arguably the most talented team in the conference, their lack of a true center has prevented them from becoming the sure thing some expected prior to the season.
As recently as February 28, the Red Storm sat in third place in the league, one spot ahead of their fourth place projection prior to Big East Media Day.
For them to be in the seventh spot and playing against DePaul at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night at MSG could be viewed as a disappointment, despite putting together their first 20-win season since 2014-15, the last before Chris Mullin became head coach.
On select nights, they have the best guard play in the Big East, but being devoid of an inside presence has resulted in the club sitting in last in several rebounding metrics – including rebounding margin – in the conference. They’re one example of the imperfect 10.
Georgetown has a center – the highly-skilled senior Jessie Govan of Queens Village – but have other flaws, which have prevented them from joining Marquette and Villanova atop the Big East.
Though, it is at least partly because of Govan, that the Hoyas have split with both Marquette and Villanova. Govan led Georgetown with 21 points and 11 rebounds over Nova on February 20.
Under Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas lead the conference in scoring (80.6 points per game), assists (16.9) and rebounding (39.8), but still have that ugly loss to DePaul on their resume.
The Hoyas enter the Big East Tournament having lost five of nine, including one at Creighton (18-13, 9-9), who defeated them twice, and a home loss to Butler (16-15, 7-11), who is tied for last in league play.
And then you have the top-two seeds, who just barely made it into the Top 25 as the season ended.
Villanova – the defending national champions – faltered to Seton Hall Saturday, but wins over the Wildcats and the Golden Eagles look progressively less impressive as time goes.
Between February 17 and February 24, Villanova lost to St. John’s, Georgetown and Xavier, and although they were on the road, the last two each resulted in twelve-point deficits.
After a 10-0 start to conference play, the Wildcats have since gone 3-5, and they’re only 5-7 on the road this season.
Marquette returns to Madison Square Garden having lost four straight to Villanova, Creighton, Seton Hall and Georgetown, respectively. The Golden Eagles, led by Big East leading scorer Markus Howard (25.0 points per game) were 12-2 in the Big East prior to February 27.
Creighton comes to New York with the league’s longest current winning streak of five games, which followed a losing streak of four, each by seven points or less.
Before beating St. John’s by 13 points on Saturday, Xavier had a five-game winning streak of their own snapped by Butler in a close five-point contest. But Seton Hall is fresh off wins over Marquette and Villanova, so maybe they’re the hot team going into the Big East’s own version of March Madness.
No one knows, and there isn’t a perfect way to figure out.
Just know the games begin at MSG on Wednesday with a contest between Providence (17-14, 7-11) and Butler. Gamble at your own discretion.