UConn Huskies favored to win Big East Conference Tournament
Outside of the Big 12, the Big East has been the most competitive conference in college basketball this season. Eight of the 11 teams in this conference are above the .500 mark, and all of those teams will head into the Big East Conference tournament feeling like they have a chance to win it all. The atmosphere at Madison Square Garden should be electric throughout the course of this event, and we’re expecting some great basketball to be played in the Big Apple. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before locking in some of your pre-tournament bets.
Big East Conference Bracket
How to Watch the Big East Conference Tournament
When: March 8-11
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York, NY
Format: Seeding based on record in conference; top-five seeds get a bye in the opening round
Watch: FS1, FOX; Championship Game on FOX on Mar. 11 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Big East Conference Tournament Seeds, Teams and Odds
1. Marquette Golden Eagles (+300)
2. Xavier Musketeers (+550)
3. Creighton Bluejays (+300)
4. UConn Huskies (+200)
5. Providence Friars (+1500)
6. Villanova Wildcats (+1000)
7. Seton Hall Pirates (+5000)
8. St. John’s Red Storm (+6000)
9. Butler Bulldogs (+80000)
10. DePaul Blue Demons (+100000)
11. Georgetown Hoyas (+100000)
Favorite To Win Big East Conference Tournament
Marquette finished in first in the Big East in the regular season, with the team going 17-3 in conference play. It is, however, Connecticut that enters this tournament as the favorite to win. At one point this year, the Huskies looked like they were a lock to run away with this conference — and potentially go on to win the NCAA Tournament. Connecticut ended up hitting a bit of a lull after a hot start, but the Huskies righted the ship late in the year. Now, things are back to normal and the oddsmakers have pinned Dan Hurley’s group as the best team in the conference. We have a hard time disagreeing with that.
Big East Conference Tournament Darkhorse
Villanova really struggled to start the season, but star freshman Cam Whitmore was hurt early in the year and it took him a little time to get comfortable out there. Now, the Wildcats are beginning to click at the right time, with the team having played some great basketball down the stretch. February wins over Xavier and Creighton have firmly put Villanova on the map, and the team will now look to make a deep run in New York. The Wildcats won’t be a part of March Madness without winning this tournament. And while that’s a tough task, it is nice knowing that the motivation will be there for this group. Also, Villanova is just 67th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin over the course of this season, but the team’s statistical profile is a lot better as of late. Since the start of February, the Wildcats are ranked 41st in the nation in T-Rank’s Power Ratings.
Players to Watch in Big East Conference Tournament
We already briefly mentioned Villanova’s Whitmore, who is projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The freshman is averaging 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game this year, and he’s one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in college basketball. If the Wildcats are going to make a run, his play on both ends of the floor will be crucial. Providence’s Bryce Hopkins is a similarly impressive athlete, but he has one more year of experience and that comes with a little more polish offensively. He has been a force for the Friars this year, averaging 16.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is somebody that has flown a bit under the radar this season, as he’s averaging 12.7 points, 7.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game this year. Kolek is the engine for an elite Golden Eagles offense, and his ability to create for others is special. Ryan Nembhard serves a somewhat similar role for a surging Creighton team, as the sophomore is averaging 12.0 points and 4.9 assists per game this year. Nembhard is quick with the ball in his hands, and he seems to always play his best in the biggest games.
A few others we should mention are Connecticut teammates Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins and Xavier’s duo of Souley Boum and Zach Freemantle. Sanogo has a relentless motor and has come a long way fundamentally since arriving in Storrs. He’s one of the best bigs in the conference, and Hawkins’ presence as a perimeter scorer only makes him better. Boum and Freemantle are very similar as a pairing, but Freemantle doesn’t possess Sanogo’s athleticism. Instead, he relies on finesse and footwork around the basket.
Betting Pick to Win The Big East Conference Conference Tournament
Marquette is probably the most well-rounded team in this conference, but the team lacks a go-to scoring option. Kolek is a star in his own right, but he is more of a table setter than a guy that looks for his own shot. In a tournament like this, it’s important to have players that really hunt for their own looks. For that reason, we’re a bit more comfortable going with UConn. This is probably the chalky pick in this conference, but the Huskies always have a great fan presence at Madison Square Garden. And Hurley’s team has top-12 numbers in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. UConn is also fourth in our VSiN Power Ratings. No other Big East team is in our top-10.