Best case, worst case scenarios for Big East Tournament



Pat Ralph


The No. 3 Wildcats have a lot riding on the Big East Tournament this upcoming weekend in New York City. Entering the conference tournament as favorites for a third straight season, the Wildcats are looking to capture back-to-back Big East Tournament championships at Madison Square Garden. 

With a first round bye, the ’Cats will begin their title defense Thursday afternoon at noon against the winner of DePaul-Georgetown on Wednesday evening. However, with four other Big East schools likely moving on to the Big Dance along with Villanova, the task will not be an easy one for the Wildcats. 


Best Case Scenario


Okay, winning the Big East Tournament for a second straight season is the obvious best case scenario. But there is so much more to it than just hoisting the trophy and cutting down the nets Saturday night at the World’s Most Famous Arena. 

On one hand, having a relatively easy road to the championship would be great for the Wildcats. While the ’Cats should be fine in their quarterfinal matchup Thursday afternoon, trouble could be lurking in the semifinals on Friday night. 

If Villanova takes care of business on Thursday, a matchup with either Butler or Providence awaits on Friday evening. The Wildcats won both games versus Butler this season, but the Bulldogs played Villanova well in both contests. Also, Butler enters the Big East Tournament having won seven of its last nine games to get itself back into the March Madness picture. 

On the other hand, the Friars handed Villanova one of its two conferences losses this season and its lone home loss of the year. Despite the fact that Providence always plays Villanova well, the Friars trudge into the conference tournament desperately holding onto their NCAA Tournament hopes after a difficult month of February. 

A difficult contest in the semifinals is unavoidable, but Villanova could catch a break if it makes it to the championship game. A Xavier and/or Seton Hall exit before the semifinals or finals could make for a far less formidable opponent in the championship game for the Wildcats. Many pundits believe No. 5 Xavier is the best team in the Big East, especially after its 90-83 victory over Villanova two weeks ago. As for Seton Hall, the Pirates are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and spoiled Villanova’s Big East Tournament title hopes two years ago in the quarterfinals. 

However, an easy road to the title would not appease the harshest of critivs of Villanova or Big East basketball. No one would be convinced that the Big East is once again a power conference. The criticism would only get worse.

On the other side of the coin, a more difficult road to the championship could be the best case scenario for the Wildcats. Along with facing either Providence or Butler in the semifinals, a victory over Xavier or Seton Hall in the championship game would be huge for the Wildcats. 

First, it would all but lock up a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Even if it is an easier road to the title, the Wildcats should be safe with getting a top seed. The ’Cats would need some help in other conference tournaments, specifically in the Big 12 and ACC, to secure the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance. 

Secondly, and maybe most importantly, it would give the Wildcats both confidence and credibility heading into the tournament. Victories over two likely tournament teams would show the college basketball world that Villanova can beat tournament-caliber teams. 

With pundits constantly remarking on the Wildcats failing to get past the first weekend of the tournament for the past seven years, it would show that Villanova is a deserving conference champion and No. 1 seed. 


Worst Case Scenario


Again, the obvious choice for worst case scenario would be if the Wildcats lost. But let me repeat myself: there is more to it than just that. 

In one worst case scenario, the Wildcats are eliminated early in the Big East Tournament to a spoiler like DePaul or Georgetown. Not only would it be a disappointing defeat for Villanova, it would likely cost the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in the tournament. Pundits and fans would once again begin doubting the Wildcats’ capabilities of doing well in the tournament, all but destroying any confidence in the team.

In another worst case scenario, the Wildcats lose in the semifinals or championship game to a likely tournament team. Would it be a bad loss? No, not really. Would it completely ruin the ’Cats chances of getting a No. 1 seed? Maybe, but not definitely. But a loss would certainly bring into question Villanova’s ability to play with and beat tournament-caliber teams in March. 

The margin of error for Villanova is zero. Any breakdowns in March, either by injuries or poor play, can end any team’s season immediately. Staying healthy, controlling both offensive and defensive rebounds, playing strong defense and getting everybody involved offensively are the keys to success for Villanova in the Big East Tournament. Seniors Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu will need to set the tone on both ends of the floor for the Wildcats. 

If Josh Hart    can replicate his Big East Tournament performance from last season, Kris Jenkins continues dominating offensively, Jalen Brunson raises his game to another level and the bench continues to contribute efficiently, the Wildcats should be on their way to another Big East Tournament title.