Big East Awarded 7 Bids to the NCAA Tournament.

SOUTH ORANGE- “In my 5 years of being the Committee chair, this year is the strongest field,” said Mark Hollis, Michigan St. Athletic Director, and head of the Men’s Division I Basketball Committee. With an absolutely loaded field, the Big EAST conference was awarded 7 total bids, 6 at-large bids to go along with Villanova‘s automatic bid after winning the Big EAST Tournament. With each team drawing an interesting match up, here are the list of teams along with their draws.

Villanova Wildcats #1 East– The Wildcats were awarded the number one overall seed after defeating the Creighton Bluejays in the Big EAST finals. The Wildcats will play the winner of Mount St. Mary’s vs New Orleans. Despite being the number one overall seed, the Wildcats road to repeating as National Champs is not an easy one. If they win, they could draw a tough Wisconsin Badgers team in round two. They also could eventually have a Sweet Sixteen matchup with Virginia, one of the better defensive teams in the country. Partner that with a Baylor, SMU, or Duke in the Elite Eight and the Wildcats will surely be tested on the road to Phoenix.

Providence Friars #11 East– Providence will have the longest road to the Final Four. The Friars will be sent out to Dayton, Ohio to play in the First Four in a game vs USC. If they were to win, Providence would be “gifted” a game against 6 seed SMU. Led by Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye, Shake Milton, and Sterling Brown, SMU will be a tough draw for any team. Providence will need a big performance out of point guard Kyron Cartwright if they want to move on.

Marquette Golden Eagles #10 East- If a team from the Big EAST is going to catch fire and make a run, it very well could be Marquette. Marquette is a team who absolutely loves to bomb the ball from 3 point land, hoisting up over 24 3-pointers per game. They take them and make them from behind the arc at a rate of 43%, as well as converting 78% from the charity stripe. Markus Howard led the Big EAST in 3-point percentage with 54.9%. If the freshman and Grad Student Katin Reindhart can catch fire from deep, the Golden Eagles could win a game or two.

Xavier Musketeers #11 West- The Xavier Musketeers played their way into a bye seed during the Big EAST Tournament, knocking off DePaul and two seed Butler before losing to Creighton on a buzzer beater by Marcus Foster. The Musketeers, still without star point guard Edmond Sumner, will have to deal with the Maryland Terrapins star point guard Melo Trimble. A team built on pounding the glass, and a swarming press defense, Xavier should win the rebounding battles with whoever they face. In order for the Musketeers to win a game or two, Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura will need to produce.

Creighton Bluejays #6 Midwest– Creighton was the runner-up in the Big EAST Tournament, falling to Villanova 74-60. The Bluejays have an NBA big man in Big EAST Freshman of the Year Justin Patton. Patton has NBA length at 7 foot. Creighton plays fast and likes to get out and run with Patton and offensive wonder Marcus Foster. Going up against the Rhode Island Rams, the Bluejays will look to push the tempo and get out in transition.

Seton Hall Pirates #9 West- Coming off a devastating loss to Villanova in the Big EAST Tournament, the Pirates are hungry. Given a nine seed, they will face the SEC Tournament runner-up Arkansas Razorbacks. The physicality in this game will be off the charts. The double-double and rebounding machine that is Angel Delgado will be matched up against Moses Kingsley, the All-SEC second team and All-Defensive team member. The Pirates are a tough team, who crash the glass hard and lock up on D. Expect a game that will be slower paced and very physical. The winner will face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round. The Hall presents an interesting matchup for UNC. Seton Hall will win games on the glass and down low.

Butler Bulldogs #4 West- The Butler Bulldogs are the final Big EAST team to make the tournament. They come into March as one of the only two teams to defeat Villanova, beating them twice. Butler, led by Andrew ChrabasczKelan Martin, and Freshman wonder Kamar Baldwin, shoots a high percentage from free throw line (74%) and only average 10 turnovers per game. The Bulldogs play smart and wear down opponents. Transfer Kethan Savage provides a great outside presence for Butler as they take on the Winthrop Eagles, who dominated the Big South this year.

Of all the conferences represented in the field of 68, the Big EAST has the highest percentage (70%) of teams from their conference. With 7 teams in the field, it will be interesting to see how the Conference fares versus the rest of the country.

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