The 2020 Big East men's basketball tournament tips off on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden between No. 8 St. John's and No. 9 Georgetown.
Creighton, Villanova, and Seton Hall, who finished in a three-way tie for a share of the regular-season title, all earned a first-round bye and will not play until Thursday in the quarterfinals. Via tiebreakers, the Bluejays earned the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of Georgetown and St. John's while Villanova was awarded the No. 2 seed and will await the winner of No. 7 DePaul and No. 10 Xavier.
Seton Hall, who entered the final week of the regular season in sole possession of first place, lost its final two games at home to Villanova and on the road at Creighton to drop to the No. 3 seed. By drawing the No. 3 seed, the Pirates will now face off with No. 8 Marquette in the night-cap on Thursday. Perhaps the hottest team in the conference, the Providence Friars—who catapulted up the Big East standings on the strength of a six-game winning streak—grabbed the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 Butler on Thursday afternoon.
The oddsmakers over at the Westgate Superbook Las Vegas have this tournament properly priced. This year's tournament, from the World's Most Famous Arena (Madison Square Garden), will be won by either Creighton (3/1), Villanova (+350), Seton Hall (+350) or Providence (7/1).
The wiseguys out in Vegas are backing the established perennial power of Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats, winners of seven of their last eight, to win the tournament for the fourth straight year. Odds are bettors will be treated to two tremendous games on Friday night in the semifinals with the likely pairing of No. 1 Creighton against No. 4 Providence and No. 2 Villanova facing off with No. 3 Seton Hall.
Creighton's star point guard Marcus Zegarowski (knee), who left CHI Health Center Omaha win over Seton Hall on crutches, has made the red-hot Friars even more appealing at odds of 7/1 should he be forced to miss the tournament.
As the calendar flips to March, Jay Wright displays why he is arguably the best coach in the country. This year he has a young Wildcats squad that is devoid of any seniors in the rotation but possesses a projected NBA lottery pick in Saddiq Bey (16.1 ppg) and quiet leader Collin Gillespie (15.1 ppg). Villanova will most likely have to get through Myles Powell (21.0 ppg) and the Seton Hall Pirates, whom it split with during the regular season. However, the Pirates, who started Big East play 8-0, head into the tournament trending in the wrong direction after losing to Providence, Villanova and Creighton in three of their final six regular-season games. The Wildcats offer tremendous value at plus-odds to add more hardware in their growing trophy case on the Main Line.
Pick: Villanova Wildcats (+350)
Big East Conference Betting Odds
Odds courtesy of Westgate Superbook
2020 Big East Tournament schedule
Location: Madison Square Garden—New York
First round: Wednesday, March 11
Game 1: No. 9 St. John's vs. No. 8 Georgetown | 7 pm ET on FS1
Game 2: No. 10 DePaul vs. No. 7 Xavier | 9:30 pm ET on FS1
Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 12
Game 3: No. 1 Creighton vs. Game 1 winner | 12 pm ET on FS1
Game 4: No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 Butler | 2:30 pm ET on FS1
Game 5: No. 2 Villanova vs. Game 2 winner | 7 pm ET on FS1
Game 6: No. 3 Seton Hall vs. No. 6 Marquette | 9:30 pm ET on FS1
Semifinals: Friday, March 13
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner | 6:30 pm ET on FS1
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner | 9 pm ET on FS1
Big East Tournament Championship Game: Saturday, March 14
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner | 6:30 pm ET on Fox
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