The Big East Tournament kicks off Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, and if the league’s regular season slate is foreshadowing what’s to come, then buckle up, because it promises to be wild. I guess it seems a bit strange to tout the Big East’s parity, given Villanova’s dominance within the conference and on the national stage in recent seasons, but the league was a roller coaster this past season and the two-time defending champs aren’t exactly what they’ve been in recent seasons. If you can figure out the Big East, good on you, because it’s been a seemingly impossible task to date.
Where to bet Big East Tournament
These are your best bets for NJ online sports betting.
Big East Tournament odds
Here’s a look at the current odds, courtesy of PointsBet NJ:
The Big East Tournament futures market is essentially broken into three tiers.
The first tier is comprised of the favorites, Villanova and Marquette.
The second tier is a group of value teams that each have a chance to make some noise: St. Johns, Seton Hall, Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown, and Butler.
The third tier: the lottery ticket teams: Providence, DePaul.
And for the Friars and Blue Demons fans out there that don’t like my assessment of their favorite teams’ chances, I mean no disrespect. In fact, it’s entirely possible that one or both of these teams make some noise early in this tournament, though it’s hard to imagine either sustaining a high enough level of play to run the table against this field. What’s more, I’m not sure those tiers tell the true story of the league. No. 3 seed Seton Hall, a team many consider the dark horse this weekend, finished 9-9 within the conference, only two games better than No. 10 seed DePaul. Through that lens, the disparity in the odds isn’t proportionate to the gap in performance.
Villanova (+140), Marquette (+180)
Further complicating things is that the top two seeds, though superior in pedigree and talent, each looked completely vulnerable down the stretch. No. 1 seed Villanova (13-5 Big East record) lost four of their final six regular season games. Despite their recent league superiority, it’s hard to get overly excited about the Wildcats at +140 because they don’t feel like a vastly superior team this time around, and in a league that’s so unpredictable, taking the shortest odds just doesn’t seem like a sharp play. Also, those that pay attention to history are surely aware that no Big East team has ever won the conference’s tournament in three-straight seasons. Still, the formidable trio of Phil Booth, Eric Paschall and Colin Gillespie, along with perhaps the nation’s best coach in Jay Wright, is more than enough reason to feel good about backing Villanova. Oh, and they are a combined 7-1 against their four possible opponents on the way to the final (Creighton, Xavier, Butler, Providence), with the lone loss coming to the Musketeers.
Meanwhile, Marquette (12-6 Big East record), a team that many view as the league’s most talented, completely came apart at the seams over its final four regular season games and hasn’t won in the month of March. Hard to feel great about +180 odds with them, yes?
Unlike Villanova, the Golden Eagles haven’t had the same overall success against the opponents who stand in their way on the path to the final, going a combined 4-4 against DePaul, St. John’s, Georgetown, and Seton Hall. They will most certainly be rooting for the Blue Demons in their opening round matchup against the Red Storm. Marquette won both of its regular season games with DePaul, but was winless in two tries against St. John’s. In order to get back on track, Marquette will need star junior guard Markus Howard, who averaged 25.0 ppg on 41.6% shooting from three this season, to lead the way, and he’s more than capable of doing so.
Those in the conversation
Creighton (+450), Seton Hall (+800 at other books), Xavier (+800), Georgetown (+1000), St. John’s (+1000), Butler (+1500)
Seton Hall (Note: New Jersey residents are not permitted to back Seton Hall as legislation prohibits state bettors from betting Jersey schools) has had a surprising season. The Pirates (9-9 Big East record) appear set to qualify for the NCAA Tournament despite losing four starters from a season ago. They were up and down in the conference, perhaps no team was more emblematic of the Big East’s unpredictability this season than Seton Hall, but they knocked off both Villanova and Marquette. That’s no coincidence. Seton Hall limited opponents to just under 35% from three this season and are also Top 50 nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Moreover, junior guard Myles Powell is a flat-out stud and he has played well late in the season, while Seton Hall seems to be peaking at the right time after playing the league’s most difficult out of conference schedule earlier in the season. Remember, they grinded out an impressive overtime win over Kentucky at MSG back in December:
Seton Hall TAKES DOWN No. 9 Kentucky 😱 pic.twitter.com/kFfqRZAPKu
— ESPN (@espn) December 8, 2018
The Pirates’ first round opponent, the Georgetown Hoyas, also has reason believe they can pull off an upset run this weekend. Notably, there’s been some interesting action on the futures market involving Georgetown this week:
Keeping an eye on odds to win the Big East Tourney @DKSportsbook
Georgetown was 15-1, now down to 9-1 and getting a lot of attention.
Big East Champ Odds:
Depaul +5000 pic.twitter.com/xCRmz3yyRk
— Bet New Jersey (@BetNewJersey) March 12, 2019
I had the opportunity to watch Georgetown (9-9 Big East record) quite a bit this season, and if I’m being totally honest, I hate this team. It’s not that they’re bad–they aren’t–it’s that they’re infuriatingly difficult to nail down. They, too, have some impressive conference wins and should be plenty motivated as they sit on the tournament bubble. The dangerous duo of guard Mac McClug and center Jessie Hovan can give opponents fits. Hovan averaged over 17 ppg and 7 boards per game this season, while McClung is an aggressive perimeter player that can carry a team for stretches. But Seton Hall’s aforementioned solid perimeter defense could prove problematic in the opening round.
Creighton (9-9 Big East record) is an interesting case, and oddsmakers are apparently a bit more bullish on them than the other mid-tier teams, perhaps with good reason. The Bluejays come in as the league’s hottest team, winners of five-straight after losing four-straight in early-to-mid February. Once Big East bottom-feeders, Creighton emerged late in the season behind a lethal offense. They dropped 79.3 ppg (40th in the nation) and shot 48.5% from the floor (18th in the nation). They are also outstanding from deep, shooting 39.6% behind the arc (8th in the nation).
— Seton Hall Basketball (@SetonHallMBB) February 17, 2019
Guard Ty-Shon Alexander leads the way with 16 ppg, but the Bluejays sport four regulars averaging double-figures, with a fifth scoring 9.9 ppg. How’s that for balance?
Really, the concern for Creighton might be its ability to survive its opening round game against Xavier (9-9 Big East record). The Musketeers (+800) spent much of this season consistently underwhelming, but they’ve been much better as of late, winning six of their last seven games. FYI: They’re also 6-1 ATS in that stretch. One of those wins came against Creighton in which a physical defense that was 36th in the country and first in the Big East in personal fouls held that aforementioned potent offense to only 61 points in an overtime win. They’ve already demonstrated an ability to shut down the Bluejays, and forward Naji Marshall is a big reason why the Musketeers are one of the nation’s best two-point shooting teams.
St. John’s (+1000) also finds itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble with some work to do. The Red Storm (8-10 Big East record) show flashes of brilliance and high upside with what is at times an unstoppable offense. Chris Mullin’s team averages 78.1 ppg, but too often have egregious lapses defensively. They’re 12th in the country in total turnovers, they’re terrible on the offensive glass, lack consistent effort, and are prone to dumb mistakes. That may sound like a harsh indictment, but there have simply been too many games this season when St. John’s fell flat to what felt like an inferior opponent. How else do you explain the Red Storm’s two losses to DePaul? What St. John’s has going for it, however, is Shamorie Ponds, a player who can take over a game at any time and the comfort a familiar setting at MSG.
As for Butler (+1500), I don’t think they offer enough value to play them, particularly when you consider its arduous path to the finals. Butler (7-11 Big East record) probably needs to win at least three games this weekend to quality for the dance, and that may prove difficult. Hell, the first round looks difficult. The Bulldogs lost twice over the past two weeks to Providence, their opening round opponent. If they survive that game, they then face a rested Villanova. And for that reason, I’m out.
Providence (+3300), DePaul (+3300)
Providence (7-11 Big East record) was the Big East’s best team defending against the three and forcing turnovers this season, so that alone probably gives them a puncher’s chance. Moreover, they also historically play well at MSG, going 12-5 since the start of the 2013-14 season. That’s all great, but the Friars do have some obvious limitations. They are the Big East’s worst defensive rebounding team, its worst three-point shooting team, its worst team from the foul stripe, and its lowest scoring team. I just can’t see Providence overcoming those deficiencies, ones which typically sink teams in close games, to run the table.
And then there’s DePaul (7-11 Big East record). The Blue Demons have the Big East’s best field goal percentage and can shoot the three a little bit. Max Strus, who averages 19 ppg, is one of the conference’s best scorers, and they’ve proven themselves to be a difficult out at times this season. I just can’t get over DePaul losing five of its last seven games in the conference to finish the season, or its tendency to be careless with the basketball. With a first round matchup against St. John’s, a team they’ve beaten twice, the Blue Demons are certainly capable of winning a game, but I don’t think they have enough to overcome a Marquette squad they’ve twice lost to by double digits in the second round.
Pick and prediction
I’ll shoot you straight. Your guess is as good as mine. Villanova could win this thing and I’ll probably kick myself for not taking the obvious choice, but I like Seton Hall. The Pirates should be confident after knocking off both Villanova and Marquette, they play sound defense, and I can envision Myles Powell carrying the Pirates throughout the weekend. There’s value here, and I’ll take a shot that parity emerges as the storyline of what should be a wild and unpredictable tournament.
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Against the spread info to know
Butler (-1) vs. Providence
- The favorite in games between two Big East teams this season only won outright 62% of the time.
- Favorites in Big East games were 45-43-2 ATS this season, almost making the games a coin flip proposition.
- Butler was 9-11 ATS as an underdog overall and 5-5 ATS as the favorite against Big East teams this season.
- Providence was 6-8 ATS as an underdog overall and 4-7 ATS as an underdog against Big East teams this season.
- Providence covered both as a dog and a favorite against Butler earlier this season, yet Butler is favored by one in their first round matchup.
- The favorite is 17-19 ATS since 2014 in the Big East Tournament.
- The favorite is 27-20-2 since 2003 in Big East Tournament games with a spread of three or less.
- The favorite is 9-6-1 in Big East games when favored by two points or less.
- Butler is 5-9-1 ATS this season on the road or on a neutral court, while Providence is 7-7 ATS.
- Butler is 3-9 ATS in games against teams allowing an average of 67-72 ppg.
- The over hit in both meetings between these two teams this season.
- The over hit in 9 of 14 Providence games that were on the road or at a neutral site.
St. John’s (-5) vs. DePaul
- DePaul is 14-14-1 ATS overall and 7-8-1 ATS as an underdog.
- St. John’s is 13-16-1 ATS overall and 8-12-1 ATS a favorite.
- DePaul is 9-9 ATS in conference games and St. John’s is 9-8-1 ATS in conference games.
- The over is 16-12-1 ATS in all DePaul Games this season and 15-14-1 in SJU Games.
- The over is 13-7-1 when St. John’s is the favorite and it’s 10-5-1 when DePaul is an underdog.
- The over is 5-2 in DePaul’s last seven games.
- The over is 4-1 in St. John’s last five neutral court games.
- The under is 10-7-1 in SJU conf games and 9-8-1 in DePaul conference games.
- St. John’s is only 2-5-1 ATS when favored between 3 and 7 points, while DePaul is 3-5 ATS when an underdog of between 3 and 7 points.
- Neither team performs well against opponents that have won between 50-65% of their games. DePaul is 3-5 ATS and St. John’s is 5-9-1 ATS.
- DePaul 2-0 both SU and ATS against St. John’s this season. Both wins came as the underdog.
Creighton (-2.5) vs. Xavier
- Creighton is 16-14 ATS overall.
- Xavier has struggled ATS overall, going 13-18.
- Creighton is a solid 8-6 ATS in road and neutral site games, while Xavier is only 5-9 ATS in such contests.
- Creighton is a solid 10-7 ATS as a favorite this season.
- Creighton is only 2-4 ATS when they are favored by 1 to 4.5 points.
- Creighton is 8-3 ATS against teams that win between 50-65% of their games and 5-2 ATS against teams allowing between 67-72 ppg.
- The under is 8-5-1 when Xavier is an underdog and 9-8 when Creighton is favored.
Seton Hall (-2.5) vs. Georgetown
- Georgetown is only 13-17-1 ATS overall this season.
- Georgetown is 9-8-1 ATS in Big East play.
- Georgetown is 7-10-1 ATS after a win this season.
- The over is 19-11 overall in Georgetown games this season.
- The over is 7-1 when Georgetown has at least 4 days of rest.
- The over is 9-5 when Georgetown is the underdog.
- Seton Hall is only 13-16 ATS overall this season.
- Seton Hall is 10-7 ATS after in games played off a win.
- Seton Hall is only 4-11 ATS as a favorite.
- Seton Hall is 2-6 ATS with at least four days off.
- The under is 17-12 overall in Seton Hall games this season.
- The under is 7-1 when Seton Hall has at least four days of rest.
- The under is 11-7 in Seton Hall’s conference games.
- The Under is 9-6 when Seton Hall is favored.
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