With the final week of the regular season ahead of us, the past weekend represented one of the last chances for Big East teams to make their mark before the conference tournament. With 5 or 6 teams in the mix to gain entry to the NCAA Tournament, the end of conference play this year is rife with postseason implications.
St. John's is a nightmare first-round matchup in the Big East Tournament
How was this team ever 2-5 in conference? How did they lose to Seton Hall and DePaul? They're currently on a 6-1 tear with their only loss - at Georgetown - having been avenged with an 11-point win at MSG over the weekend. They were up 16-6 within 6 minutes in that game, led by as many as 17, and were never seriously threatened down the stretch. Phil Greene his six threes, Sir'Dominic Pointer went for 24 and 7, and their interior defense dominated the Hoyas. They're likely going to be the four seed in there conference tournament, meaning that Xavier pulling the 6 instead of the 5 is definitely a good break.
Butler's big post-Chrabascz test is coming up
The Bulldogs lost their power forward early in a loss to Villanova but have gone 3-1 without him. Those three wins came against conference laggards Creighton, Marquette, and DePaul, while the loss was a blowout @Xavier. If there's a good time to lose a vital player, that stretch of schedule was it for Butler. Now they're facing a week of Georgetown and @Providence to close out the season; if Coach Chris Holtmann has another trick up his sleeve, now's the time for him to deploy it.
Villanova can beat anyone...or lose early
Beating Xavier may not be the proof of that, but the Wildcats are as good as anyone in the nation. Any team that takes 42% of their shots from deep and makes 39% of those shots is a legitimately terrifying matchup for anyone, even prohibitive favorite Kentucky. However, in Nova's two losses they are 12-47 behind the arc. Going that cold against anyone but the 16 seed they deserve to face in the first round could spell a very early end for Jay Wright's team.
Unheralded Freshman stepping up for Seton Hall
Coming into the season, all anyone could seem to talk about in regards to Seton Hall was the recruiting coup that it was to lure Isaiah Whitehead to South Orange. Now with their once promising season winding down into a mess of infighting, suspensions, and players quitting the team, a pair of less heralded recruits- Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado- are giving Pirates fans a reason for positivity. Whitehead has been nothing short of a disaster, proving to be a divisive influence while also shooting an abysmal 36% from the field and turning the ball over more often than than he generates assists. However with Carrington and Delgado each scoring 13 in Saturday's win over Creighton, and Delgado grabbing 11 boards as well, there are a pair of freshmen closing the season on a high for Seton Hall..
Henton is making it count
LaDontae Henton's senior season at Providence has been one Friars fans won't soon forget. Henton has come roaring down the stretch, scoring 20 or more in 5 of his last 6, which has been the main reason behind Providence's somewhat unforeseen challenge for second place in the conference. After a stretch at the end of January where he went for 12, 13, and 16 in consecutive games, with ORatings ranging from 79-91, Henton has found his stroke and been able to once again carry Providence. With a place in the field of 64 all but sewn up, the question becomes: can their talismanic senior carry the Friars past last year's first round exit and into the second weekend?