Big East Weekly

Only a handful of Big East teams have both something at stake in the Big East Tournament and the ability to win enough games to do something about it. The rest are pretty much locked into their postseason tournament fate, and they aren't likely to move their seeding up or down more than one spot.

Which teams care?

Unless they're cheering against someone else, Seton Hall, South Florida, Rutgers, and Cincinnati don't care. They aren't playing because they finished 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th.

Connecticut and St. John's care a great deal, but they won't care very long. The only chance either has to make the NCAA Tournament is winning the BET. The odds of that happening are a close tangent to zero.

Providence and DePaul care quite a bit. Both believe they can make the NCAA Tournament with a run to the finals, even if they don't win the championship game; and both are capable of getting hot enough to do just that. They may not make the NCAA Tournament without winning the BET, but they'd at least play their way into consideration.

West Virginia cares a great deal. The Mountaineers are on the bubble right now. They have nice victories over Villanova and UCLA; but their RPI is only 57, their strength of schedule is on the low end of mediocre, and they have a very bad loss to woeful Cincinnati. Two wins in the BET would do a lot to strengthen their candidacy. Tonight's game with Providence is life and death for both teams. If you're a Big East fan, that's a game to watch.

Villanova cares because the Wildcats are playing for seeding. They have a strong RPI, 19, and impressive wins over Oklahoma, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Louisville; but they're also the ninth place team in the Big East. VU should make the tournament, but it's one of the Big East teams that needs a win or two to stay away from the dreaded 8/9 seeding. Villanova and DePaul play at noon. Have lunch in front of a big screen today and watch that game.

Louisville, Notre Dame, Marquette, and Syracuse don't care a lot because they will all make the NCAA Tournament; and all should be seeded sixth or better according to conventional wisdom. They shouldn't take anything for granted. One and done in the BET will hurt their seeding. Nobody likes being #8 or #9 because the 8-9 winner has to play the #1 seed in round two of the tournament. Those four teams need to win one to avoid such a fate.

Pittsburgh and Georgetown only care because they like to win. They're both in the tournament, and neither one's seeding (in the neighborhood of #3) is likely to change much no matter what they do in the BET.

If you plan to watch the Big East Tournament, try to catch the Wednesday and Thursday games. They are the ones with the highest stakes for the NCAA Tournament. As far as I'm concerned, the only reason a team should need to play hard is having a game on the schedule, but the stakes are likely to be trivial by Friday unless a team like DePaul or providence is on a roll.

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