Mar. 12, 2017
2017 Big East Tournament Primer
The tips off Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden with a pair of play-in matchups before a full day of quarterfinals action on Thursday, followed by semis on Friday night, all on Fox Sports 1. The championship game is slated for 5:30 ET on Saturday (FOX). Here is what you need to know heading in:
Hottest team not named Villanova: Providence
Few teams around the country are hotter than Providence is right now. Since their six-game regular season winning streak began on February 11, the Friars went from off the NCAA Tournament radar to the safe side of the bubble. Ed Cooley's squad needed time to adjust from losing two NBA Draft picks from last year's team, and now that everyone is comfortable in their roles, they are a legitimate contender to win the conference tournament.
Player to watch: Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
You already know how good Delgado (15.7 ppg, 13.1 rpg) is if you have been following the Pirates all year, but this is the junior forward's opportunity to make a name for himself around the country (like Isaiah Whitehead did last year). Delgado was named a performer earlier this week and last week he broke a 30-year Big East record by finishing the regular season with a 14.1 rebounds per game average in conference games. Villanova's Josh Hart is the best player in the Big East (and may even be named national player of the year), but the stage is set for Delgado to become a household name heading into the NCAAs.
Play-in team you don't want to play: St. John's
The Johnnies are 13-18 overall, but with wins at Syracuse, at Providence, and home vs. Butler and Seton Hall, they are capable of knocking off a big opponent. Led by standout freshmen guards Shamorie Ponds (17.6 ppg) and Marcus LoVett (16.4 ppg), I see St. John's advancing past a deflated Georgetown team and giving defending national champion Villanova their best effort on Thursday afternoon.
Team who has something to prove: Xavier
The Musketeers were considered an NCAA Tournament lock until Edmond Sumner went down for the season with a torn ACL on January 29. Xavier won their first three games after his injury but have lost 6 of their last 7. This team will go as far as their star forward Trevon Bluiett (18.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) can take them, but a win against DePaul on Wednesday may not be enough. If they beat Butler Thursday night, I think Xavier has the overall body of work to make the Big Dance.
**Also considered here is Creighton, who is still adjusting to life without point guard Maurice Watson (tore ACL on January 16)**
Wednesday - 7:00 ET - St. John's over Georgetown, 9:30 ET - Xavier over DePaul
Thursday - 12:00 ET - Villanova over St. John's, 2:30 ET - Seton Hall over Marquette, 7:00 ET - Butler over Xavier, 9:30 ET - Creighton over Providence
Friday - 6:30 ET - Villanova over Seton Hall, 9:00 ET Creighton over Butler
Saturday - 5:30 ET (FOX) - Villanova over Creighton