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Big East Efficiency Rankings, team stat capsules, and tournament odds for each team

Breaking down the Big East Tournaments' participants.

Will Villanova surprise the Big East with a deep Big East Tournament run?
Will Villanova surprise the Big East with a deep Big East Tournament run?

The Big East Tournament starts tonight. Who's going to surprise? South Florida is slowly, sneakily improving. DePaul is not. Cincinnati is declining. So is Syracuse.

Villanova is confusing. Louisville continues to be impressive, even if they shared the league title with two fine future Big East institutions.

Who is the true contender and which teams are pretenders?

We give the league's final regular season efficiency margins AND a team-by team tempo-free breakdown capsules with their odds for winning the Big East Tournament - the last with Syracuse, Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame - all below.

Tempo-free table + graphic

Data taken from Statsheet with supplements from You may want to read: An explanation of terms: stats + tempo-neutral terminology used on the Rumble. Contact me and let me know what's unclear. The point is understanding, not obfuscation.

We use points per 100 possessions for Offensive Efficiency (Off. Eff) and Defensive Efficiency (Def Eff). First, the Big East by the end-of-season standings, with efficiency margins and margin ranking indicated:

Off. Eff
Def. Eff
Eff. Margin
Eff Rk
Notre Dame
St. John's
Seton Hall
South Florida

And the graphic of efficiency margins, for those who like bar charts. Click to embiggen.


Big East Team By Team Breakdown

Quick tempo-neutral scouting reports - now with Bovada's odds of winning the Big East Tournament.

Cincinnati | Connecticut | DePaul | Georgetown | Louisville | Marquette | Notre Dame | Pittsburgh | Providence | Rutgers | Seton Hall | South Florida | St. John's | Syracuse | Villanova

Cincinnati Bearcats

What they do well:

Be big. The Bearcats are the best in the league on the defensive glass, clearing opponents' misses - Justin Jackson (who has been injured) and Titus Rubles have led the charge. The Bearcats also are second in the league at percentage of opponents' shots that get blocked, tied with St. John's - thanks to Jackson on Cheikh Mbodj.

Take the shots that count more. The Bearcats take 42% of their shots are from beyond the arc.

What they do poorly:

Score. The shooting percentages are in the bottom four of the league inside (43%) and outside (29%) of the arc; Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright have been streaky shooters.

Negative turnover rate. The Bearcats turn the ball over on nearly 20% of their possessions, and force turnovers on 18%.

Trend: Downward. The offense has become markedly worse in the month of February, while the defense has also been about the same/ slightly worse. Mick Cronin's Bearcats have lost four of their last six and six of their last ten dating to the end of February.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 28/1

Connecticut Huskies

They'll be playing video games in the dorms, ineligible for this year's Big East and NCAA Tournaments. Hit the books, fellas.

(Yes, we know that their penalty wouldn't be a penalty under the new APR rules, and in some ways they got screwed. You have to understand, as a St. John's blog, we're contractually obligated to point and laugh at any and all UConn misfortune.)

DePaul Blue Demons

What they do well:

Keep opponents from taking threes. 24.5% of opponents' shots are from outside of the arc, best in the Big East. This may or may not be intentional (read on).

Force steals. Though the overall turnover rate (20%) is only okay, DePaul does swipe the ball from opponents' hands in 10.5% of their possessions, thanks to Brandon Young, Charles McKinney, and Worrel Clahar.

What they do poorly:

Defend. Across the board, the Blue Demons' defense is poor, ranking at the bottom of the league in two-point and three-point defense, while giving up the highest percentage of offensive rebounds (and one of the lowest blocked-shots percentages in the league, to boot). Oliver Purnell's team draws opponents inside, but they draw them in transition, where they certainly enjoy seeing how hard they can dunk on a Demon. (Chane Behanan may have won this year's Dunk on a Demon contest.)

Take the right shots. The Blue Demons shoot solidly from the two (46.5%) but never get to the free throw line, don't get offensive rebounds, and shoot poorly from beyond the arc; they don't score consistently enough to be competitive with their defense.

Trend: Slightly downward; the defense is giving up almost 10 more points per 100 possessions since the beginning of February (in a 70 possession game, that would be something like 7 more points given up - not insignificant). The offense has improved, but it's hard to notice, and not enough to make a dent in the win/ loss record.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 750/1

Georgetown Hoyas

What they do well:

Shoot the ball. The Hoyas have the second most efficient offense inside the arc (50%) and are the most efficient outside of the arc (38%). They move the ball well and share like you were taught in kindergarten, assisting on over 65% of made shots.

Defend shots. John Thompson III's club is the third best at defending twos (43%) and the best at defending threes (28% shooting from opponents).

What they do poorly:

Allowing extra points. The Hoyas aren't great at keeping teams from shooting threes (which is fine with their defense), but they also foul opponents - a free throw attempted to field goal attempted rate of 38%, 10th in the league. Opponents also grab 33% of available offensive rebounds.

Turning the ball over. The Hoyas also turn the ball over on 21.5% of their possessions - more extra chances for the other team.

Trend: Fairly steady. Sweeping Syracuse, however, is great for the confidence; the Hoyas have won 11 of their last 12 and forward Otto Porter should be named Big East Player of the Year tomorrow for doing everything effectively.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 17/4

Louisville Cardinals

What they do well:

Defense. The Cardinals have the league's best field goal percentage defense inside the arc - opponents have shot 41%. The Cardinals are also notably good at forcing turnovers - opponents turn the ball over on 25% of possessions. That's a LOT. Thank the backcourt of Russ Smith (aka Russdiculous), Peyton Siva, and Kevin Ware for the turnovers, and the combo of Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell for the interior defense.

Get second shots. The Cardinals rebound 38% of their own misses, just a hair under what Marquette does on the offensive boards. Dieng, Harrell, and Chane Behanan lead the party.

What they do poorly:

Shoot the ball from outside the arc. Rick Pitino's bunch hits only 31% of their outside shots.

Prevent offensive rebounds. Just as the Cardinals feast on the glass, their opponents enjoy a healthy diet of second shots. Those shots don't go in against that stout interior defense and Gorgui Dieng's shot blocking... but it's better not to take that chance.

Trend: Sneakily upwards. Rick Pitino's bunch lost once in February, and it took five overtimes in South Bend, Indiana to accomplish that feat. The defense remains steadily dominant while the offense is slightly better by points per possession measures; Louisville has the capability to make any opponent look like DePaul.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 7/5

Marquette Golden Eagles

What they do well:

Shoot inside the arc. With Davante Gardner and a coterie of slashing guards led by Vander Blue, the Golden Eagles are paint warriors, shooting 53% inside the arc.

Rebound the offensive glass. The Golden Eagles get second shots, rebounding 38% of their own misses. (If we go out a few decimal points, they are slightly better than Louisville has been.)

What they do poorly:

Defend the three. Opponents take 35% of shots from outside the arc - a significant number in the poor-shooting Big East, especially for a team that doesn't exclusively play zone.

Shoot the three. Buzz Williams' team shoots 29% from beyond the arc. Sometimes, those threes are necessary when a large hole has been dug - or to finish off an opponent that has been battered by the Golden Eagles' depth and athleticism.

Trend: Solidly upwards. The defense has improved slightly, but the offense has slid up to scoring 107 points per 100 possessions (from 104). Winning a share of the Big East title validates Williams' approach, and the talented team wants more.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 10/1

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

What they do well:

Share the ball for scores. The Irish pass the ball well (as always) and have the league's highest assist rate - assisting on 66% of numerous made shots. Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant each assist on upwards of 29% of their teammates' shots while they are on the floor.

Rebound opponent misses. The Irish rebound 70% of opponent misses - among the best marks in the league, and only below Villanova and Cincinnati. Jack Cooley is effective on the glass, and other forwards pitch in.

What they do poorly:

Defend. The Irish allow a lot of assists (63% of opponents' makes are assisted) and force few turnovers (under 16% of opponent possessions), which will make life hard if a team gets comfortable and starts dropping buckets on Notre Dame. Considering the team already allows 50% shooting inside the arc, finding ways to make opponents uncomfortable would help their long-term chances.

Get to the line. If the Irish shots aren't dropping (like in their home finale against St. John's in the first half), the team is beatable, and doesn't get to the line to control the game/ jumpstart the scoring. Their free throw rate (free throws attempted / field goals attempted) is 32%.

Trend: Downward. The offense has slid from the hot, league-best start, though the second half schedule did have good teams. The Irish have lost four of their last nine.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 18/1

Pittsburgh Panthers

What they do well:

Defend the three-point arc. Pitt allows 28% shooting outside the arc, while forcing teams to take 34% of their shots from distance. Jamie Dixon's defense is well-structured, and Tray Woodall and James Robinson have proven to be solid on defense.

Pick their shots wisely. Pitt has sparkling shooting percentages from two-point range (just under 50%) and three-point range (36%) on infrequent outside shots. Steven Adams and Lamar Patterson hit their shots, but Woodall has been the team's highest percentage shooter inside the arc in all games. They also assault the offensive glass, grabbing 37% of their own misses.

What they do poorly:

Foul opponents. Pitt's fouling rate (opponent free throws allowed divided by their field goals taken) of 43% is about as bad as Rutgers and Seton Hall - two teams that combine lackluster defense with late-game fouling to up their numbers. Which is to say that Pitt might be a little TOO physical.

Shoot the three. Yes, right above it says "Pitt has sparkling shooting percentages). But an 0/8 day against Notre Dame in a loss, 65% free throw shooting, and the fact that they only take 27% of their shots from outside the arc (12th in the league) may be a sign of shooting reluctance, and a sign of a team that isn't able to take advantage of the arc to gain separation from opponents.

Trend: Steady. The approach has led to some hiccups against good teams; the only elite Big East squad Jamie Dixon's group has beaten is Georgetown in January - and Syracuse at home if you think of them as still elite. Other than that, their February wins have been against Seton Hall, St. John's, South Florida, DePaul, Cincinnati, and Villanova.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 19/4

Providence Friars

What they do well:

Rebound the offensive end. The Friars have mustered a league-average offense on the strength of offensive rebounding, grabbing 38% of their misses - tied for second in the league with Marquette. Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton have been aggressive.

Prevent three-point attempts. Opponents take a paltry 25% of their attempts from beyond the arc - and not just because they can dunk instead, like against DePaul.

What they do poorly:

Two-point shooting. The Friars are frigid inside, shooting 43% inside the arc - 12th in the Big East. Guards Josh Fortune, Kris Dunn, and Vincent Council are sub 40% shooters inside the arc.

Defend inside the arc. The Friars are second-worst in the league at blocking shots - swatting 5.4% of twos, second worst to Seton Hall - and Ed Cooley's ballers allow 48% shooting inside the arc.

Trend: Up from the gutter. The Friars aren't impressive, and have been blown out. But they have found ways to win against teams close to them in the standings, losing two of eight contests in February to Syracuse by blowout and an injury-riddled Connecticut (in overtime). (I'm not one to give gambling advice, but that game vs Cincy is good "upset" pick.)

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 60/1

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

What they do well:

Shoot threes. Though Rutgers doesn't shoot from the outside as often as other teams, the Knights have hit 36% of their three-pointers in Big East play (2nd in conference) - and still manage to get to the line. Drive and kick basketball works, somewhat, for them. Myles Mack is a 45% shooter from beyond the arc.

Rebound the offensive glass. Mike Rice's club is aggressive on the boards, grabbing 36% of their (frequent) misses. Wally Judge and Kadeem Jack lead the way but most of the players attack the boards.

What they do badly:

Shoot long jump shots. Prone to droughts, the Knights intersperse passable play with jacked up long two-point jumpers, despite hitting 43% inside the arc. Those shots are inefficient - they don't draw fouls, they're worth two points, and they're harder to hit than shots at the rim.

Play on the wrong side of chaos. The Knights turn the ball over on 22% of their possessions (while forcing mistakes on 19% of opponent possessions), and foul. A lot. The free throw allowed rate is second worst in the Big East - only Seton Hall is a notch below. The defensive rebounding isn't great, either - creating too many factors for the Knights to overcome on a typical afternoon/ evening.

Trend: Was that the bottom? I think so! Since January 17th's win over South Florida, Rutgers has beaten Seton Hall twice and lost to not-Seton-Hall 11 times. The team is adjusting to guard Eli Carter's injury with more Myles Mack.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 250/1

Seton Hall Pirates

What they do well:

Shoot threes. The South Orange/ Newark bombers space the floor well enough to shoot 36% on their threes, taking shots from outside the arc nearly 42% of their possessions, second most in the conference. Aaron Cosby and Fuquan Edwin lead the shooting; Brian Oliver is not shy about pulling the trigger.

Find enough players to field a roster every night. The injuries sustained by the Hall are epic, an enemy to consistency. Team star Fuquan Edwin, Tom Mayaan, Kyle Smyth, and Eugene Teague have played in 31 games; the rest is a rotating MASH unit of bodies.

What they do poorly:

Protect the ball. Opponents steal the ball from the Hall on 14% of possessions - a full 3 percentage points higher than they do against the next-worst team. The Pirates' 25% turnover rate is a killer for the offense.

Keep opponents out of the paint. Kevin Willard's teams keep opponents off of the three-point line, but whether playing man or zone, cannot protect their interior. Opponents shoot 48% inside the arc and draw free throws at one of the highest rates in the league.

Trend: Digging in the dirt. The Pirates have won three Big East games - one over DePaul, one over South Florida, and one over Villanova. The offense has declined slightly.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 350/1

South Florida Bulls

What they do well:

Keep opponents from extra points. Stan Heath's Bulls have been terrible, but they manage not to compound the problem by fouling a lot on defense or allowing teams to scorch them from the outside. The Bulls allow 31% shooting from beyond the arc.

Take a lot of threes. If none of the shots are going in, why not take the ones that are worth more? The Bulls take 38% of their shots beyond the arc - less than only Cincinnati and Seton Hall. (Of course, teams that take a lot of threes rarely draw fouls.) Victor Rudd is not shy; neither is Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. Both are 6'8" and the closest thing the Bulls have to capable big men. And they shoot from outside the arc.

What they do poorly:

Score. South Florida was flirting with the worst offense of the past six years in Big East play before turning things around slightly. Victor Rudd has had five solid scoring outings, and Anthony Collins has been playing well, but this team lacks offensive options.

Rebound. With options that amount to "raw", "unwilling" and "mediocre transfer from a mediocre school called Florida Atlantic", the Bulls almost pull of the deadly double of being the worst team on the glass in Big East play at both ends. The rebound 28% of their own misses and 63% of opponent misses - a daily deficit on the glass. Luckily, DePaul's defensive rebounding is more putrid.

Trend: Slightly up. South Florida has huge flaws, but is finding enough scoring to stop the bleeding, winning two of their last three and taking Cincinnati to overtime. They're still being outscored by 16 points per 100 possessions - or 10 points in the course of a more normal 65 possession game.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 250/1

St. John's Red Storm

What they do well:

Block shots. With Chris Obekpa, Sir`Dominic Pointer, and JaKarr Sampson, the Johnnies present an imposing front line that can alter shots and make opponents uncomfortable, blocking just under 11% of opponents' two-pointers.

Win the turnover battle. The Red Storm have managed to turn the ball on 17% of their possessions while forcing turnovers on almost 23% of opponent possessions.

What they do poorly:

Shoot/ shot selection. The Red Storm are the league's worst at shooting from beyond the arc (25%) and from the free throw line (64.5%). The team also shoots a league-low 25% of their shots from beyond the arc yet are 12th in the league at drawing fouls. That's a toxic combination for scoring hopes - especially against packed-in zones. The Storm also shoot 45% inside the arc, taking an inordinate number of shots in the midrange - a/k/a "the least efficient shot in the game."

Rebound the offensive end. The Johnnies choose to stay off of the offensive glass, preferring to get back on defense; but on a team that struggles to score, grabbing only 30% of that many misses means there are a lot of second chance opportunities going to waste.

Trend: Down. With personnel issues (leading scorer D`Angelo Harrison is off the squad for conduct detrimental to the team), the Red Storm's scoring has declined from what was already a weak attack to South Florida territory. The Red Storm have talent but have lost four straight.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 75/1

Syracuse Orange

What they do well:

Force the action with the zone. Jim Boeheim's crew forces teams to take 41% of their shots outside of the arc, forces turnovers on 23% of opponent possessions, and blocks 11% of opponent two-pointers - a notch higher that St. John's does.

Get to the glass. The Orange also grab 38% of their own misses.

What they do poorly:

Defensive rebound. Yes, playing in a zone can be detrimental to a team's board work, and the Orange struggle again with grabbing opponents' forced missed shots, grabbing 63% - just above South Florida and DePaul.

Three-point shooting. The Orange shoot 30% from beyond the arc, with Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams connecting on under 30% of their three-point shots. It's not a problem when the shots are going down in the paint, but the team shoots 46% inside the arc - decent, but not otherworldly. Coupled with an inability to draw fouls, the Orange offense has taken a step back in recent weeks.

Trend: Down. The Orange have faced a gauntlet of Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, and Georgetown again, and lost every one; Syracuse only cracked 60 points against defensively permissive Marquette. In the slowest game of the five game series (the Orange blasted DePaul last week for fun), Syracuse scored 39 points in 56 possessions. Sound the alarm.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 5/1

Villanova Wildcats

What they do well:

Defend inside. The Wildcats allow 42% shooting inside the arc - only Louisville has been better in Big East play. The Wildcats have also been good at funneling opponents into spaces where they will miss shots; there aren't a lot of blocked shots here, just solid defense from the frontline of Mouphtaou Yarou and Daniel Ochefu and the wing James Bell.

Create shots. Despite shooting around the league median on two-pointers (46%) and three-pointers (34%), Jay Wright's team rides aggressiveness to draw fouls at a rate (FTR: 52%) seven percentage points higher than the next-best team. They hit 71% of their free throws when they get to the line. JayVaughn Pinkston alone draws almost 8 free throw attempts per game in Big East play; Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono add to the parade to the line.

What they do poorly:

Turnovers. Despite opponents not forcing an inordinate number of steals, the Wildcats' turnover rate is second-worst in the league at 22%.

Fouling. The Wildcats continue to bump and nudge and draw the attention of referee whistles, fouling opponents at a rate of 39.5% (free throws attempted to field goals attempted).

Trend: Inconsistent. The offense is improving, but mixing wins over Georgetown and Marquette with a loss to Seton Hall is the definition of inconsistent.

Odds of winning Big East Tournament: 25/1

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