March Madness Contenders to Watch – Big East – Villanova

Big East Brings Formidable Presence to March Madness

While the new and current form of the Big East Conference is vastly different from the old one there are some similarities. The Big East remains known for playing some of the toughest high-quality college basketball in the country.

With the Villanova Wildcats it has a flagship brand offering national championship cache, but the Seton Hall Pirates, Creighton Bluejays, Providence Friars, and Marquette Golden Eagles also show that the league boasts a lineup of teams that can compete with and beat the best in the country.

Let’s take a look at how the Big East Conference measures up for March Madness.

Big East Teams for 2020 National Championship Odds at BetMGM:

  • **Seton Hall Pirates 16/1
  • Villanova Wildcats 30/1
  • Creighton Bluejays 30/1
  • Xavier Musketeers 100/1
  • Marquette Golden Eagles 100/1
  • Butler Bulldogs 100/1
  • More...
Betting Odds provided by MGM (NJ only, T&C's Apply, 21+)
**New Jersey Schools not available for wagering in NJ**

Big East Contenders to Watch

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS)
#Rankings and Records as of 2.28.20

#13 Seton Hall Pirates (20-7 SU, 17-10 ATS)

This has been a breakout season for The Hall as they gun for their first regular season conference championship since 1992 and just the second in school history. In fact, coach Kevin Willard is leading the Pirates to their best era of success since the glory days of PJ Carlesimo in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Seton Hall will be in the Big Dance for the fifth consecutive season under Willard but this team is a cut above those previous editions. Most important of all to gamblers is the strong board value that The Hall has shown. Further credibility comes in the form of a 52-48 win over Maryland last December. Not to mention a 70-64 payout at Villanova on February 8. Senior guard Myles Powell leads the Pirates with 23.3 points per game, his second straight year as their leading scorer.

#12 Villanova Wildcats (22-6 SU, 13-13-2 ATS)

Coach Jay Wright’s Villanova program has won two of the last four national championships and remains the marquee name for the league. Nova’s three-game losing streak to begin February tarnished them in the eyes of some gamblers, but they have recovered nicely with a five-game winning streak. One concern is the lack of a dominant go-to scorer that can take over a game. But a 56-55 win over #1 Kansas last December shows what Wright’s team can do on a given day. Sophomore Saddiq Bey leads the Wildcats with 16.1 points per game.

#10 Creighton Bluejays (22-6 SU, 16-11 ATS)

Coach Greg McDermott is well known for having teams that can light up the scoreboard like a video game while taking most possessions off on defense. This year the offense is again full-throttle but the defense has improved to mediocre, which for the Bluejays is a vast improvement and may be enough for Big Dance success. What worries some handicappers are straight up losses this season to San Diego State and Michigan. Counter to that are quality wins over Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Seton Hall, and Villanova. The guard tandem of Junior Ty-Shon Alexander and sophomore Marcus Zegarowski lead with an average of 16 points per game each.

Big East Long Shots and Sleepers

Marquette Golden Eagles (18-9 SU, 17-10 ATS)

Fans of high scoring offensive basketball will love the Golden Eagles, who rank 33rd in the country for scoring offense but 212th for points allowed. Marquette is 8-7 in Big East play and boasts a true dominant star in senior guard Markus Howard, who is averaging 27.2 points per game. The Golden Eagles are limping down the stretch with losses to Villanova, Creighton, and Providence since February 12 but do boast an earlier home win over Nova. An 84-63 loss to Maryland on December 1 does not inspire confidence for a deep run.

Providence Friars (16-12 SU, 13-15 ATS)

With three wins in a row and fourth place in the Big East at 9-6 in conference, the Friars are a good possibility for the Big Dance. In that recent run was a 74-71 win over Seton Hall and an 84-72 win over Marquette. Earlier in the season the Friars had also defeated Creighton 73-64. While a non-conference 70-48 win over Texas was nice an 83-51 loss to Florida was not. Senior guard Alpha Diallo leads with 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

March Madness Prediction
Which Big East Team will go the furthest this March?

Villanova is in good closing form and their win over Kansas is the most impressive on anyone’s Big East resume.

Big East Best Bet: Villanova Wildcats 30/1