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2023 Big East Tournament Preview and Prediction

Big East Tournament
Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2023 Big East Tournament Preview and Prediction

The Big East Tournament bracket is finally set! We’re heading into the best time of the year: March. Madness. It is the time of the year for conference tournaments and then, of course, the big one, NCAA Tournament.

If you couldn’t tell by the title, this is the Big East Tournament preview and prediction for 2023. After Marquette secured the Big East regular season championship, let’s see how I think the rest of the bracket ends up for the Big East.

One player to watch from each team

The players listed below are going to be a vital part of their team and their success may very well rely on these players.

  • Marquette: Oso Ighodaro
  • Xavier: Colby Jones
  • Creighton: Ryan Nembhard
  • UConn: Andre Jackson Jr.
  • Providence: Jared Bynum
  • Villanova: Brandon Slater
  • Seton Hall: Femi Odukale
  • St. John’s: Dylan Addae-Wusu
  • Butler: Eric Hunter Jr.
  • DePaul: Da’Sean Nelson
  • Georgetown: Akok Akok

Sleeper to win Big East Tournament

UConn.

The Huskies are playing very good basketball right now at just the right time. They are on a five-game winning streak heading into the tournament and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. In those two games that they lost, they only lost by three points.

This team is hot and ready to roll, led by Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins, who average 33 points of UConn’s 80-point average. Although Sanogo is a much better efficient scorer, Hawkins has been the Huskies’ leading scorer in nine of their last 13 games.

As mentioned in the players to watch, Andre Jackson Jr. is a player to watch for UConn. He does a lot of the dirty work for the Huskies posting 6.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

If those three are on the same page, they could go on a run for sure.

First Round Predictions:

8. St. John’s vs. 9. Butler

Out of the first-round matchups, this one is the best one to watch. These teams will fight this one out in a battle for all 40 minutes.

St. John’s scores nearly 78 points per game, which is top-50 in the country. However, they also give up 75.7 points per game on defense. They make up for the lack of defense with rebounding, averaging 39.4 per contest, good for ninth nationally.

Butler, on the other hand, is the worst-scoring team in the Big East at 65.3 points, though they hold teams to 67.7 points per game, too. Butler is also the worst rebounding team in the Big East.

As much as I think this will be a good game, I can’t see Butler winning this game. St. John’s can score and rebound, much better than Butler can defend. The Red Storm move on.

Prediction: St. John’s 73, Butler 67

7. Seton Hall vs. 10. DePaul

There’s a huge drop-off in talent from Seton Hall to DePaul. While Seton Hall doesn’t score that much, DePaul will practically let you score if you try. DePaul gives up 77.3 points while only scoring 70.9 points per game. Seton Hall boasts the second-best scoring defense in the Big East, conceding just 65.1 points to opponents.

I just don’t this game or the next game will be close in the first round, Seton Hall gets a warm-up game.

Prediction: Seton Hall 74, DePaul 62

6. Villanova vs. 11. Georgetown

SPOILER: Villanova wins. I just don’t think it’s a question. Can Chickster coach Georgetown better than Patrick Ewing? I think it’s close. Only two wins in the conference and seven wins total for the year? Yeah, this team is done. If Villanova somehow loses this game, they should feel ashamed of themselves for at least two years.

Prediction: Villanova 76, Georgetown 60

Quarterfinals Predictions

1. Marquette vs. 8. St. John’s

Well, we got the scrubs out of the way — except maybe Butler. Either way, we can get to the games that matter with the teams that matter.

First, Marquette is looking great under Shaka Smart. I think Smart has found the perfect fit for him. Marquette is fantastic at scoring the ball. Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro can do it all for the Golden Eagles. They can score, rebound, pass, whatever you need.

St. John’s will need to control Kolek and Ighodaro to have a chance. Given that St. John’s is not the best defensive team, they will need to do what they do best, score and rebound. If they do that, they might have a chance, but I’m not hopeful for St. John’s.

Prediction: Marquette 80, St. John’s 75

4. UConn vs. 5. Providence

Given that two weeks ago UConn smacked Providence 87-69 and Providence hasn’t been the best lately, things aren’t looking good for the Friars. However, this should be a high-scoring game with both teams averaging over 78 points per game. Where UConn holds an advantage is that their defense is significantly better than the Friars.

Given the fact that UConn is peaking at just the right time and even though Hawkins is not the most efficient scorer, he and Sanogo should have their way with Providence unless they forget how to play basketball. UConn in the semis.

Prediction: UConn 83, Providence 78

2. Xavier vs. 7. Seton Hall

The best-scoring team in the Big East going up the second-best defense in the conference is always room for excitement.

Seton Hall, as good as they are defensively, will have their hands full with controlling Xavier’s Souley Boum, Colby Jones and Jack Nunge. Those guys together combined for 46.1 points per game for the Musketeers. Doesn’t that scare you enough? They do that at 52.3% together. That’s straight-up nasty.

Seton Hall will need to bring their A-game on defense to stop this Xavier team.

Prediction: Xavier 80, Seton Hall 73

3. Creighton vs. 6. Villanova

Villanova has been playing good ball lately. They have won six of its last eight, which includes a win over Creighton.

The Bluejays heavily depend on the scoring of Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman, Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Nembhard. Those guys score 65 out of the team’s 76 points per game. Villanova has to contain these guys as much as they can. Even if one of them has a bad shooting night, the odds are in their favor.

Nova boasts a very deep backcourt, using their depth to throw different looks at Creighton, so hopefully keeping their guys fresh will be helpful late in the second half. However, the Wildcats don’t have much depth in their frontcourt and that might be their downfall in this game.

Still, I think Nova is hot right now and can win this game. Put Villanova in the semis.

Prediction: Villanova 67, Creighton 65

Semifinals Predictions

1. Marquette vs. 4. UConn

This might be the game to decide who wins the whole thing. I think right now, these might be the two best teams in the Big East. Whoever wins this game should win the Big East Tournament.

While I think UConn is dangerous and is the sleeper to win this tournament, I have to go with the logical pick here in Marquette. The Golden Eagles have been consistently the best team in the Big East with Smart as their head coach. Despite UConn’s defense, I have to expect Smart to find a way to overcome that against the Huskies. I’ve shown plenty of love to UConn in this post, but their run could end here.

Prediction: Marquette 78, UConn 76

2. Xavier vs. 6. Villanova

After I think Villanova narrowly escapes Creighton, their run should end here. They are simply overmatched by Xavier’s ability to score. The fact of the matter is that Villanova doesn’t have enough offense or defense to overcome Xavier. Xavier heads to the finals.

Prediction: Xavier 81, Villanova 70

Final

1. Marquette vs. 2. Xavier

This is the most likely matchup for the Big East tournament final. However, as I said, I could see UConn in the final as well. I think Xavier surely goes to the finals — I don’t think anyone on their side of the conference bracket can scare them enough.

However, Marquette and UConn might be better than Xavier right now. We know that Xavier and Marquette can score on anyone in the country, but it will come down to defense to determine on who wins this game.

Statistically, Marquette and Xavier are similar to each other. When teams are comparatively equal to each other, coaching comes into question. Who do you like more: Shaka Smart or Sean Miller? Smart gives Marquette the edge for me.

Prediction: Marquette 76, Xavier 72

***

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