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Big East Tiers: 2/18/19

With 3 weeks left in the regular season, the Big East has proved most preseason projections correct. Not as good as previous years, but completely wild. We finally do have more that 2 teams above .500, but two of the four are only a game over.

As we head to the finish line, here’e how the teams can be grouped based on this season’s results.

2.18.19 Tiers.JPG

As always, you can find this chart, and so much more at BartTorvik.com. I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t yet.

Tier 1 – None

With Nova dropping two of its last 3 games, any chance of them sneaking into Tier 1 has faded. I can say with complete certainty, there are no Tier 1 teams to be found in the Big East this season.

Tier 2 – Villanova, Marquette

Last time we checked in on the Big East, Villanova was playing like the 15th best team in the country in the short and medium term samples. After close losses at Marquette and St. John’s, that is no longer the case. Still, losing the two toughest games on the Big East schedule isn’t some reason to panic, particularly in the manner they were lost. Nova had a decent possession with a poor result to win at Marquette, coming back from a 15-point deficit. And blowing a 19-point lead to St. John’s is difficult to spin as glass half full, but if Gillespie hits 1 or 2 of his wide open 3s in the 2nd half, it’s a different game. This team isn’t a national championship contender, but it still has the pieces to make serious noise.

As for Marquette, it’s been steadily good for the entire season, with results outpacing the numbers throughout. The one thing that has changed is Marquette’s offense has leveled up. After ranking 55th in January with a 111.6 AdjO efficiency, it is up to 16th in February, with a 118.8 AdjO efficiency. The most interesting part of this is that it hasn’t come about via a barrage of 3s. In fact, MU is shooting 3.5% worse from distance this month. The big change has come via turnovers, or lack thereof, from 17.3% (103rd) to 13.8% (22nd). I don’t expect those numbers to sustain themselves the rest of the month, but it does go to show how lethal Marquette can be when in protects the ball.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Villanova 26 24 45
Marquette 33 31 34

Tier 3A – St. John’s, Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall

Tier 3A has fluctuated a lot this season, but as we close in on the home stretch, I think it’s safe to say that these 4 will remain here for the remainder of the season. Also, without guessing how many just yet, the rest of the Big East’s tournament bids will come from this group.

I know St. John’s was playing without Mustapha Heron, but losing at home to Providence in between beating Marquette on the road and Villanova and Butler at home is a perfect synthesis of how beguiling this team is. Extreme highs, dizzying lows.

Butler has found its way back a bit, but is running out of chances to get the necessary Q1 victories to make the dance. It travels to Marquette this week and Villanova next weekend, and will need to win of those two, as well as holding serve in at least 2 of the other 3, possibly all 3, to feel safe going into Selection Sunday.

Seton Hall had a huge last 2 weeks, sweeping Creighton and asserting its tournament viability in the process. Much like St. John’s, it is prone to volatile swings in both result and analytics. Last time we checked in on them, they were playing the worst ball in the conference, ranked 168th in the previous 2 weeks. Now? They are the hottest team (in terms of numbers) playing like the 25th best team. So while the Pirates can feel pretty good about their bubble chances right now, I’m not willing to make any predictions.

As for Creighton, their tournament fate was probably sealed with their midweek loss at Xavier, but that isn’t the most interesting fact. By now everyone knows they have led at the Under 4 TO the last four games and gone 0-4 in them, but they have made a mockery of Ken Pom’s win probability all season. They just cannot close games.

Season Month 2 Weeks
St. John’s 49 64 54
Butler 50 55 46
Creighton 52 49 86
Seton Hall 56 78 25

Tier 3B – Georgetown, Providence

Both of these teams are capable of winning just about anywhere. Georgetown beat St. John’s in MSG while Providence had Nova on the ropes until it got TKOd in the last 4 minutes. And both teams are too young and inexperienced to maintain any positive momentum from one game to the next.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Georgetown 76 84 128
Providence 80 88 117

Tier 4 – Xavier, DePaul

I’ll give it to Xavier, I thought they had given up on this season just a week ago. They were lifeless in a home loss to DePaul, capping a 6-game losing streak, and it seemed like the players were going through the motions. But wins over Creighton and Providence this week showed that this team still has some fight, and enough talent to overtake anyone taking them lightly. They aren’t good, per se, but nowhere near bad.

Which also happens to be DePaul’s motto. They are done playing the league’s top 2 teams already, and can still dream of an NIT bid if they can win 4 of the last 5. They are only favored in 1, so it’s not a likely scenario, but this is the latest DePaul’s postseason dreams have lived in probably a decade.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Xavier 97 101 66
DePaul 99 100 146

The results of the past week helped to separate the middle tiers from the bottom, and raised the Big East’s projection to secure 4/5 bids to the highest levels(72.1%) since Jan. 28.

Capture.JPG

But as we’ve seen all year, the Big East has been as unpredictable as any conference. Two weeks of results can make a huge difference.

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