The Big East Tournament which begins Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, focuses around one question, can anyone beat Villanova?
Villanova rampaged through the Big East, accumulating only two losses en route to a 16-2 conference record and 29-2 overall record. Nova’s two losses came to Seton Hall in overtime, back when the Pirates were good, and at Georgetown, always a tough place to play.
The Wildcats are one of the most complete teams, and they do not even have a star player. Nova has eight players that play over 14 minutes per game, and have great team chemistry. It does not matter to any particular player if they score 20 points, or zero points as long as they win and that is what makes them great and so much fun to watch.
Villanova has a great backcourt featuring guard Darrun Hilliard, who averages a team high 14 points per game, guard Ryan Arcidiacono who is second on the team with 10.7 points per game. Nova also has a great big man, Daniel Ochefu, who averages nine points and 8 rebounds per game. The Wildcats have been rolling as of late, winners of their last 12, and fresh off a 37 point drubbing of St. John’s.
The winner of the St. John’s vs. Providence game will most likely take on Villanova if the Wildcats take care of business against Marquette or Seton Hall. St. John’s poses a great threat to Nova, even though St. John’s just got blown out by them. The Red Storm will be playing at home and if D’Angelo Harrison has one of his games where he catches fire, they can beat them. The Johnnies are embarrassed with their showing on Saturday and will be looking for revenge.
The only other team that can beat Villanova is 22nd ranked Butler. Georgetown is good, but the Hoyas would have to play Butler in the semifinal, that is if they get by Xavier. If Butler were to beat Xavier and play Georgetown, I would take Butler in that one. When Nova played Butler in Indianapolis on February 14th, Nova won the game on a last second three-pointer, in a game that could’ve gone on either way.
The Bulldogs will want to show they belong in the Big East and the best way to do that is to win the Big East Tournament. With Andrew Chrabascz rejoining the Butler lineup from injury, they are a complete team again. Chrabascz joins Kellen Dunham, 16.6 points per game, and Roosevelt Jones, 13 points per game, which makes a formidable threesome. Butler is very well coached and will have the confidence to beat anyone.
My picks for each game:
Marquette vs. Seton Hall: Seton Hall is done and they have completely lost composure. Steve Wojciechowski will have his Marquette team ready to play.
Creighton vs. DePaul: DePaul, who is usually the doormat of the Big East Conference, has surprised many people this year. This game is a toss up, but I’ll go with DePaul.
Marquette vs. Villanova: Villanova is on a quest to win their first Big East Tournament Championship in 20 years, and will not be stopped by Marquette.
St. John’s vs. Providence: St. John’s beat Providence both times this season, and they will do it again behind the senior leadership of Harrison, and Sir’Dominic Pointer.
Georgetown vs. DePaul: DePaul does not have caliber of players to match up against with the Hoyas. The Hoyas should roll in this one.
Butler vs. Xavier: This game should scare Butler. Butler and Xavier beat one another at home this past season, but Xavier won without Andrew Chrabascz playing. Butler should take this one, but it wouldn’t a total surprise if they lost.
Villanova vs. St. John’s: As much as I want to pick the Red Storm to pull off the upset, Villanova is just too good and deep. St. John’s only plays six to seven players a game while the Wildcats can go 10 deep. In both games this season, the games were within 4 points at halftime only for Villanova to runaway with it. This game should stay close, but Villanova’s discipline on offense with getting a good shot unlike St. John’s potency to take crazy shots will be the difference in this one. Also Ochefu will dominate St. John’s big man, Chris Obekpa, down low.
Butler vs. Georgetown: These teams have played three times this year, two conference games and one non-conference game. Butler prevailed in the first meeting 64-58 which took place back in November at the Battle 4 Atlantis holiday tournament. In two conference games these two teams played, Georgetown won the first by two on a three-pointer with five seconds left, and in the second game Butler only lost by six.
Butler vs. Villanova: Villanova has not won the tournament since 1995, but the 20-year streak will come to an end this year. Villanova has their eye on a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, and if they win the Big East Tournament, there is no doubt they will get that number one seed. Butler is not as deep and does not have the players’ talent all around to last with Villanova.