The 2014 Big East Tournament was filled with many surprises and disappointments making it one that we will all remember. The Providence Friars were the 2014 Big East Conference Tournament champions. Their path to the championship became easier with the surprise loss by Villanova to Seton Hall in the second round. Providence went on to beat St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Creighton in root to their first conference tournament championship since 1994. Who will be this year’s Big East Conference Tournament Champion? Let’s take a look to see some of the major teams that have a chance and some of the teams that could go under the radar.
2015 Big East Conference Tournament Bracket
Villanova is the number ranked team in the Big East and they are head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in terms of talent in the Big East. After a disappointing 2014 campaign, Jay Wright will have his boys prepared this year. Villanova’s back-court consisting of Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono will have to endure their great play this year heading into the tournament if they want to take home the trophy.
Georgetown has no problem scoring at a high rate with D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera leading the way. Smith-Rivera is 5th in the Big East in scoring this year and looks to capitalize on that success in the upcoming tournament. Georgetown does a fantastic job of dictating the pace of play in a game to the way that they like it. They love getting up and down the court at a fast pace and will try to use that to their advantage in the tournament.
Kris Dunn and LaDonte Henton are two of the top players that we have in the Big East. Henton leads all players in scoring averaging 20 points per game while Dunn leads the Big East in assists averaging 7.4 a game. Henton and Dunn will have to play some of the best basketball they have ever played if they want another chance at the Big East Championship.
One big problem with Providence this season has been their inability to hit the 3-point shot. They rank last in the Big East in 3-point percentage. That percentage will have to go up if they even want a chance to win their first game against St. John’s who are much better at shooting the 3 (ranked 3rd in the Big East).
To fully lock down a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the Xavier Musketeers will have to get at least 1 win in the Big East Tournament. They face a tough Butler team in the second round and will need to feed the ball to the post to their big men. Xavier is fantastic at moving the ball, ranking 5th in all of college basketball in assists per game. Great ball movement and playing through Matt Stainbrook will give the Musketeers a chance to be this year’s dark horse in the Big East Tournament.
Under the Radar Players to Watch
The Big East Sixth Man of the Year award winner from Villanova, Josh Hart, will be the difference maker for the Wildcats in this tournament. Coach Jay Wright has said it himself that Josh Hart would be a starter on almost any other team in college, but he has accepted his role and has excelled in it.
Joshua Smith is the most important asset for the Georgetown Hoyas. Smith is the definition of a BIG MAN and most teams in the tournament will have an extremely tough time guarding Smith. If Joshua Smith can stay out of foul trouble, opponents will be forced to double him offensively which will create open shots for the outside shooters.
Sterling Gibbs is the best and most important player for Seton Hall. Isaiah Whitehead has underwhelmed all this year and has had a very poor season. Seton Hall’s success depends largely on Gibbs’s play. If Sterling Gibbs can have another memorable tournament statistically, Seton Hall could very well surprise Villanova in the second round once again.
The Co-Defensive Big East Player of the Year award winner, Sir’Dominic Pointer, will have a chance this tournament to truly make a name for himself. St.John’s team starts and ends offensively with D’Angelo Harrison, but defensively, Pointer is their man. He has averaged over 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior year. A 6’6 guard averaging 2.5 blocks per game is something you don’t often see. Look for Pointer to have an outstanding month of March.
It is hard to pick against Villanova this year. Both the talent and chemistry within this team have grown immensely throughout the course of this year, especially after their 20 point loss in January to Georgetown. Villanova is coming off an absolute dominant performance offensively against St. John’s in their last game, where they won 105-68. They will ride that regained confidence and momentum into this tournament.
Big East Conference Tournament play begins tonight at 7 with #8 Seton Hall taking on #9 Marquette then #7 DePaul facing #10 Creighton.