Big East Odds Report: The Pirates Look to Make Opponents Walk the Plank
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By: Brent Booher
Last week, the Big East had three teams ranked in the Top 25 (Seton Hall, Villanova, and Butler) and on Saturday all three teams lost at home to unranked conference foes.
This is the depth of the Big East this season.
Entering this week, the Big East now has four teams ranked in the Top 25, including first place and 12th overall Seton Hall (16-5, 8-1 Big East).
The Pirates returned all five starters from a season ago, most notably All-American candidate Myles Powell, and have answered all the preseason expectations so far.
Seton Hall has had a very impressive season to date, beating then #7 Maryland, then #5 Butler and also losing by a combined 5 points to Michigan State and Oregon. Before their 74-62 loss to Xavier on Saturday, Kevin Willard’s Pirates were enjoying a 10-game win streak.
Because of this, oddsmakers believe they have as good of a chance as anyone to win the Big East, with their Big East odds to win their first title since 1993 currently at +350.
The rest of February will be a real test to see just how good this Pirates team can be, as they face Villanova and Creighton twice, Butler and Marquette amongst the rest of a very tough Big East conference.
This week begins the gauntlet run for Seton Hall as they travel to face Georgetown (Feb. 5) before heading to Philadelphia to face 10th ranked Villanova (Feb. 8).
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Jay Wright Likes the Way Villanova Looks, I Guarantee It
The best dressed coach in college basketball must love where his 10th ranked Villanova Wildcats (17-4, 7-2 Big East) are right now.
Despite a 76-61 loss to then unranked Creighton on Saturday (Feb. 1), Villanova has been flying high in the Big East this season with their only other loss coming at the hands of Marquette in early January.
In a season that was expected to have a few bumps along the way with a young and inexperienced roster, Villanova has played outstanding basketball all season. The Wildcats have wins over Kansas, Xavier, Butler and Creighton while having a respectable 87-78 loss to now No. 1 Baylor.
In terms of the Big East, Wright has his Villanova squad poised to make a run for their third Big East regular season title in four years. It’s because of this that oddsmakers still consider Villanova the favorite to win the Big East as their Big East odds sit at +225.
This week’s schedule for Nova will be yet another test for Jay Wright’s team to navigate through as they travel to Indianapolis to face 19th ranked Butler (Feb. 5) before returning home for their aforementioned date with 12th ranked Seton Hall on Saturday (Feb. 8).
Creighton, Marquette, Butler and the Rest of the Big East
As has been the case in recent years, Creighton, Marquette and Butler are once again very dangerous teams in not only the Big East, but in a possible NCAA Tournament situation.
No. 21 Creighton (17-5, 6-3 Big East) is led by tandem Ty-Shon Alexander (16.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Marcus Zegarowski (16.1 ppg, 5 apg) and are coming off of an impressive 76-61 road beat down of Villanova to pull within two-games of Seton Hall in the standings.
With both meetings with Seton Hall still on their schedule, the Blue Jays will have their opportunity to chase their first regular season Big East crown (+450 to win Big East) in school history.
No. 19 Butler (17-5, 5-4 Big East) started the season 15-1 and saw their first Top 5 ranking in school history, especially impressive considering where the program was under Brad Stevens.
Since the torrid start however, conference play has put a few blemishes on the Bulldogs record with losses to Seton Hall, DePaul, Villanova and this past Saturday to unranked Providence.
However, the Bulldogs remain a very dangerous team the rest of the way and will have a chance to climb back into the thick of the Big East title race. Oddsmakers still have Butler at +350 to win the Big East as of this writing.
Last but not least, Marquette (16-6, 6-4 Big East) remains a very dangerous opponent as well – particularly because they have the nation’s leading scorer in Markus Howard (27.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.1 apg) at their disposal.
Sacar Anim is another shooter to worry about as he is averaging 13.3 points per game while shooting 42% from 3 – in large part because of all the attention Howard attracts.
The Golden Eagles are a team that can beat anyone if their star scorer is on his game, but they’re also a team capable of laying an egg if Howard has an off night or runs into foul trouble – as evidenced by last season’s short stint in the NCAA Tournament.
Providence (12-10, 5-4 Big East) does not figure to win the conference, but they are talented enough to give the Big East top dogs a scare or to even win outright – as evidenced by their aforementioned 65-61 win over Butler.