With a full slate of games on Saturday and since we’re more than halfway through the conference season, the Big East bubble watch is starting to come into focus.
In what has been a very successful season for the Big East as it is the no. 2-ranked conference according to RPIRatings.com, it continues to raise eyebrows this year. Led by Villanova, along with some other outstanding clubs, the Big East should easily eclipse the four invitations to the Big Dance it received last year.
The balance this conference exhibits is second to none as four to five teams have wrestled for supremacy at the top of the standings next to Villanova. Safe to say, this year’s Big East Tournament should be bigger and better than ever.
So, let’s assess the chances of some of the Big East bubble teams below.
Stone Cold Locks: Villanova and Butler
Not a lock, but firmly in at the moment: Providence and Georgetown
Out barring a miracle or winning the conference tournament: Creighton, Marquette and DePaul. (It’s too bad the Blue Demons could not capitalize in the non-conference schedule, as they have been a good story while tied for fifth place in the conference at the moment).
Still might have work to do:
Xavier: 15-9, 6-6 KenPom RPI: 25
With a KenPom RPI of 25, it looks like Xavier is sitting pretty. But with just a .500 record in conference play, its resume is not bulletproof.
The Musketeers are coming off a huge win over Providence on Saturday, and they have the look of a team that will indeed make it. Xavier has good wins over Stephen F. Austin, Murray State, Georgetown (twice), and Seton Hall.
On the flip side, the Musketeers do have three 100+ RPI losses to Long Beach State, Auburn and DePaul. The thing working in Xavier’s favor is the positives clearly outweigh the bad here. How it finishes will be critical.
St. John’s: 15-8, 4-6 KenPom RPI: 40
If the Red Storm can get to .500 or over in conference play, their candidacy for making the tournament will go up exponentially.
However, at the moment, their sub-500 record in conference could be a hindrance. Still, this is a very good St. John’s team. They have a stellar RPI of 40 and have some nice wins on their resume. Most impressive for their case is their sweep of Providence. They also have good wins out of conference over Syracuse, Minnesota and St. Mary’s.
With a great senior class of D’Angelo Harrison, Sir’Domonic Pointer, Phil Greene and Jamal Branch, it’s silly to sell this St. John’s squad short. It has the experience necessary to go on an extended run. Don’t forget St. John’s was a top-15 team at one time during the season.
Seton Hall: 15-8, 5-6 KenPom RPI: 54
The Pirates keep walking to the edge of their own plank.
After losing five out of their last seven, the Pirate’s stock is sinking like a stone. The positives going for them are a solid RPI of 54 while also owning a fantastic win over Villanova. Seton Hall also possesses solid wins over George Washington, St. John’s and Xavier.
However, it was swept by DePaul (who, by the way, is playing a lot better than its 122 RPI) while also losing to Marquette at home. There is still time for Seton Hall to get back into the mix of things, though.