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The 2014 Big East Tournament Might Be Crazy

Conference tournaments are known for being competitive and for there being a chance anything could happen. The Big East this year though, is even crazier than normal.

Joe Robbins

Most conference tournaments are highly competitive affairs, as teams who messed the bed for four straight months get a final chance for redemption via battle with their more consistent brethren, but the depth and balance of the Big East have the chance to deliver something truly extraordinary this week.

It starts right away with the Seton Hall game on Wednesday. Seton Hall is a talented team that swept Georgetown and Xavier this season and managed a split with a highly-rated Creighton team, even coming a hair from knocking them off twice. Their first-round game is against Butler... who beat them twice by a total of 24 points this year. The other Wednesday game is Georgetown versus DePaul, who was the only truly abject squad in the league this year. Even then, the Blue Demons were within three with eight minutes to go at Georgetown before the Hoyas put them away with a 10-1 run.

The winner of the Georgetown/DePaul game (Georgetown, I'm assuming), will go on to play Creighton. Their nickname is the only place the Bluejays aren't creating space, and they bombed everyone into submission their first time through the league. The worm turned a little bit the second time around, and that's also the case in this matchup. Georgetown lost to Creighton 76-63 in Omaha and then beat them 75-63 in DC. Over the span of the home and home, Creighton outscored Georgetown 139-138. The rubber match on a neutral floor should make for good television.

The winner of the Seton Hall/Butler game will play Nova, who dominates everyone.

The other Thursday games feature Providence v. St. John's as the early opener. These teams split their season series as well, but each won on the other's home court. The last time they played at Madison Square Garden, a single overtime was not sufficient to tell between the two. St. John's came on hard down the stretch of the season, but an overworked Providence squad will have had just shy of five days to rest their legs, and I'm doubting they'll leave anything on the floor in what might amount to a bubble play-in game.

Oh, had I forgotten to mention that? Not only will these teams be playing for the chance to take home the Big East Tournament... cup? Trophy? It's gotta be a trophy, right? Anyway, Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, and Xavier are all trying to clear up lingering doubts regarding their tournament status, and even Marquette could make a case for at-large inclusion with two good wins and a tough game against Nova.

Speaking of Marquette, they play Xavier in the late game Thursday. These teams also split their meetings this season, which is a continuing trend of this discussion. Xavier opened up a can on Marquette at the Cintas Center (86 points in 67 possessions) before having the favor returned on the road (Marquette scored 81 points in 60 possessions). Marquette gunner Jake Thomas must be positively giddy going into the game; he averages 5.5 made threes against Xavier and 1.9 against everyone else.

The winner of that game will go on to play the winner of Georgetown or DePaul/Creighton. DePaul lost every game they played against Georgetown, Creighton, Xavier, and Marquette this year. If they're still in the discussion at this point, throw everything you know about basketball out the window and just enjoy the ride. Assuming they didn't consider the fact that Xavier's aggregate record against Georgetown and Creighton was 2-2 this year. Marquette's aggregate record against those two? Also 2-2.

The winner of Providence/St. John's will play Nova, who dominates everyone. Well, kind of. Nova did indeed go 4-0 against Providence and St. John's, but they beat St. John's by a total of 10 points over those two games. If the Johnnies could have found one more point every eight minutes of play, they could have theoretically pulled even and both games would still be in overtime as we speak. While we're on the subject of overtimes, consider that - while Nova did beat Providence twice by a total of 33 points - that is skewed by a 30-point beating at Nova on January 5th. The other game was a double-overtime, three-point win three weeks ago. In other words, the average result of those two games is a 16.5 point Villanova win... in overtime.

Just looking at the results from the season, you can build a reasonable case that you might see Villanova, Providence, or St. John's come out of one half of the bracket and Creighton, Xavier, Marquette, or Georgetown come out of the other half. Seven of the ten teams still in play today can look at how they played against their conference foes and have a not-illogical belief that they can still make a run for the automatic bid.

Despite all that, if you're going to bet put money on Villanova. They were, after all 14-2 in conference play and generally dominate everyone. Well, except for Creighton, who beat them twice by a total of 49 points. Maybe it's best to just keep your money in your pocket this year.