With Selection Sunday, that most glorious of holidays in the basketball world, a mere three weeks away and Big East regular season play winding down, it seemed every shot this weekend had implications for March written all over it. Some teams were looking to secure a coveted at-large bid, while others were grasping at the last straws of fading hope in desperate effort to make their dream of an NCAA Tournament berth a reality.
Villanova will once again win the conference
The Wildcats currently sit atop the Big East at 12-2, and they're on the cusp of their second straight conference title official. They took apart Marquette over the weekend, leaving them needing just a win over Providence on Tuesday to clinch at least a share of the league title and just two wins in their last four - Providence, @Xavier, @Creighton, St. John's - to make official what we've all been assuming since the season began.
The race for the middle is far from decided
Nova will take one top seed in the conference tournament, and one of Butler, Georgetown, and Providence will likely take the other. It seems clear that the four teams playing for the right to play the top seeds will be DePaul, Seton Hall, Marquette, and Creighton. That leaves an 8-7 Xavier and a 7-7 but on-form St. John's team in limbo, battling for advantageous seeding in the first round of at MSG. The conference tournament will provide the chance for a final polish on the resume, but teams are also battling to avoid grabbing a bad matchup and a quick exit.
DePaul is who we thought they were
After starting the Big East season 3-0 and then 5-2, DePaul looked positioned for an extremely unlikely renaissance. Turns out they're actually still bad. The Blue Demons have lost 4 in a row and 7 of 8 since their hot start. Only catching Seton Hall during their own mythic collapse has kept Oliver Purnell's team from ripping off 9 straight losses; another poor season seems to be in the cards despite that promising start.
Seton Hall expends its last breath.
With their last fading chance at turning around a once promising season and finishing .500 in conference play, the Pirates led 50-46 with 15 minutes to play at St. John's. From that point on, they were swamped 39-22 as the Johnnies took their own step toward redeeming a once dismal looking campaign. Seton Hall has not won yet in February and their last chance, and probably last chance at a win this season, comes at home against Creighton on the 28th. Finally given the keys to the offense following Sterling Gibbs' suspension, highly touted freshman Isaiah Whitehead shot an abysmal 8-24 and turned the ball over 4 times a the spiral continued for Kevin Willard's team. As far sideways as things have gone off the court, one begins to wonder what the fall out will be in South Orange once the campaign finally comes to a close.
Pointer makes his last go-round count for St. John's
Once dead and buried at 2-5 in the conference, St. John's has made another late season surge to include themselves in the bubble picture by improving to 7-7. Last season Sir'Dominic Pointer saw limited action and was mostly ineffective on offense, but the senior has taken the chance he has been given in his final college season and thrived as St. John's season has come back to life. The last team to hold him in single digits was Villanova on January 6 when he fouled out after only logging 23 minutes of action. In his last 10 games the 6-6 Pointer has ripped down multiple offensive boards, totaling 31 over the span, with 6 of the games seeing him grab 3 or more. Unless you are a Kentucky fan, seeing guys develop over their four years in your program is one of the great joys in college hoops and Red Storm fans have to be delighted with Pointer's emergence this season.