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The Big East on the bubble

It almost isn’t too early to look at this stuff anymore.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Xavier
Raise your hand if you have a bid locked up for now
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s February now. While this is the worst month of the year, there are signs of hope on the horizon. In four weeks it will be March and all of this basketball will be building to a crescendo. Back in the days of the Atlantic 10, Xavier would battle for Temple (boy, have they fallen off) and maybe one other team for the one or two bids the conference would get to the NCAA tournament. Things are different now. Here’s how the Big East looks at this moment.


Xavier (18-5), UConn (17-6), Marquette (18-5)

Xavier (NET: 26, KenPom: 23)- You know the Musketeers resume at this point. X is 6-4 in Q1 games, 11-4 in the top two quads, and has one bad loss. The one thing that could possibly trip the Musketeers up would be a massive nose dive with Zach Freemantle out. Last night seems to suggest that won’t happen. The Bracket Matrix has X in as a four seed.

UConn (NET: 8, KenPom: 6)- The metrics love UConn. The worst they are is 18th in Strength of Record (SOR). They’ve stumbled a bit recently, but only have one sort of bad loss (St. John’s) and hammered both Alabama and Iowa State. The Bracket Matrix sees the Huskies as the top five seed.

Marquette (NET: 11, KenPom: 8)- The Golden Eagles trail only Xavier in SOR in the Big East, their worst loss is Wisconsin, and they beat Baylor by 26. Throw in a torrid streak right now and eight wins in the top two quads and Shaka Smart’s boys look in comfortably.


Providence (17-6), Creighton (14-8)

Both of these teams are high bubble, but they have some reason for concern. Remember here that things get sketchy on Selection Sunday for teams around 38th in the NET.

Providence (NET: 36, KenPom: 28)- The Friars main strength is that they don’t have any bad losses. Of their 17 wins, 12 have come in their quad three and four games. They are undefeated there. They have good wins against UConn and Marquette, but the resume is a bit thin with only five wins in the top two quads. They are probably ok for right now, but the fact that some brackets have them as low as a nine seed means the margin for error isn’t great.

Creighton (NET: 17, KenPom: 11)- The Jays are the ultimate test in whether you like metrics or resume. Their computer numbers are great, but they have two Q1 wins and only four in Q2. Their best road win is at Butler. They also lost to Nebraska. That all adds up to an SOR 48th and a nine seed on Bracket Matrix with some brackets having them in a play-in game. The numbers are good, but these guys need some good wins.

Work to do

Seton Hall (14-9)

Seton Hall (NET: 53, KenPom: 47)- Shaheen Holloway inherited a tough job. The Pirates have three Q1 wins, including a 45-43 barn burner over Rutgers, and another couple in Q2. Their problem is they lost to NET #142 Siena and scheduled well but only succeeded in racking up those vaunted good losses. They have Creighton, UConn, Xavier, and Providence left on the schedule. They probably need at least two of those and can’t afford another bad loss.

And that’s it. Best case scenario is that the Big East sends six teams. Most likely, they send five. Villanova, St. John’s, Butler, DePaul, and Georgetown are complete non-factors except as resume poison. If one of them wins the conference tournament it could mean seven teams for the BE, but only if Seton Hall gets scorching hot between now and then. Things are about to start getting fun.