Zimmer: Big East Tournament Predictions

Updated: May 10


It's time for the brightest stage in all of basketball, and the one of the sports' most rich traditions. For the last 40 years, each team in the conference heads to Madison Square Garden for the BIG EAST Tournament - a unique trait for such a powerful conference.


This is the building that historic seasons come to die, #10 seeds bring home hardware, and each club makes its final tune-ups before a potential big dance appearance.


Here's my bracket.



OPENING ROUND Xavier defeats Butler, DePaul defeats St. John's, and Seton Hall defeats Georgetown


It sure appears I'll be going at best 1-for-3 with my opening round selections. Xavier and Butler played to more of a chess match than we'd expected; we saw 3 guys foul out before the regulation period ended, and the 5th foul on Paul Scruggs was ultimately what did the Musketeers in. This is a pretty damning sentence for Xavier, who is about as close of a bubble team as you can get; they've lost 8 of their last 10 and their KenPom rankings have plummeted.


DePaul-St. John's was an intriguing one. I thought All-BIG EAST First Team nod Javon Freeman-Liberty might impose his will on the Johnnies, but they proved to be a non-factor in this tournament, sadly. DePaul will get better with time in the Tony Stubblefield era.


Not too worried about Seton Hall and Georgetown. This should be an easy pill for the Pirates to swallow as the Hoyas are about to have their worst season in recent history.


QUARTERFINAL ROUND

Providence defeats Xavier (now Butler), Marquette defeats Creighton, Villanova defeats DePaul (now St. John's), UConn defeats Seton Hall


I had Providence and Xavier squaring off here, but I actually think a reprise with Butler favors the Friars even more. Sure, Butler is a defense-first team, and historically those have given the Friars trouble, but Providence has too many offensive weapons to be threatened this time around.


Marquette and Creighton should be fun. Can the Bluejays ride their success into the tournament after picking off UConn at home? I think this has the potential to be a total toss-up, with a slight edge to Marquette just because of Justin Lewis.


Despite scoring 92, St. John's shouldn't be a huge threat to the Wildcats, who have proved they have the most talented team in the conference this year.


UConn and Seton Hall have some solid history this year and beyond, and it should continue on Thursday night. Give me the Huskies here, but don't count out the Pirates.


SEMIFINAL ROUND

Providence defeats Marquette, UConn defeats Villanova


Let's start with Providence and Marquette. The Golden Eagles were one of two teams the Friars lost to in conference play this year...and boy, it was a rinsing. 88-56, to be exact. The second matchup was much more of a rock fight, ending 65-63 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. If Providence can manage freshman phenom Justin Lewis, this is a game they should be in the drivers' seat for. But, if they can't control Tyler Kolek and Daryl Morsell, this could spell trouble. I'll take the Friars by another slim margin if their defense shows up...which I truly believe it will. If not, it's Marquette by 10 here.


UConn and Villanova is where it gets tricky. Nova won 85-74 against the Huskies back on February 5th, and UConn returned the favor in Hartford with a slim 71-69 victory. Sure, maybe it was because Hurley got kicked out early in the first half, or maybe it was Tyrese Martin pumping up the crowd. But either way, the Huskies prevailed; they changed leads with the Cats 18 times, including 6 in the final 8 minutes (thanks Dan Gartland from SI for the assist there!). We are in for another fantastic matchup of these two, and I'll put a little faith in the Huskies here.


CHAMPIONSHIP

Providence defeats UConn


Twitter has been waiting for this. Is it not written in the stars for the two fanbases that get the chippiest at each other to settle it on the court? If this does end up going down, I'll take Providence. Sure, the analytics favor UConn, and rightfully so; they have a slight advantage in efficiency numbers. In their one game this year (the other was canceled due to COVID pauses), the Huskies didn't have Adama Sanogo, and Providence exploited the hole. I think the Friars have been burned a few too many times to not know what's coming, so if they execute well, we'll see Providence hoisting the trophy on Saturday night.

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