The Big East Tournament tips off Wednesday night with the bottom four teams in the conference battling for the right to keep their seasons alive under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden.
Even though no likely NCAA tournament teams are in action, college basketball always provides some unexpected twists and turns. Last season on the first night of the new tournament format, DePaul upset Georgetown while an underrated Seton Hall team knocked off Butler in a thriller before Sterling Gibbs and the Pirates shocked Villanova the following afternoon.
Championship Week is one of the most entertaining weeks in all of sports and nothing is better than Big East basketball in New York City.
#8 Seton Hall vs #9 Marquette 7:00 pm ET
It's been a dramatic season for the Pirates to say the least. Kevin Willard's team kicked off their conference slate with two marquee victories against 15th ranked St. John's and 6th ranked Villanova at the Prudential Center without star freshman Isaiah Whitehead. They peaked as high as 19th in the AP Poll but their inexperienced roster (four freshman playing key roles) started to falter against top competition beginning in mid-January against Butler.
There's no questioning Seton Hall's talent but Marquette will be no easy task on Wednesday night.
Just a month ago, the Golden Eagles went into "The Rock" and knocked off the Pirates by three. Duane Wilson has the ability to score in bunches and Marquette's zone defense could cause problems if Whitehead and Sterling Gibbs are not knocking down shots from the outside.
One key area where Seton Hall has the advantage on paper is in the paint where freshman, Angel Delgado, is a stronger and tougher than Luke Fischer. Steve Taylor Jr. has grabbed 29 rebounds in his past two games and if he is able to help neutralize Delgado, who averages 9.9 rebounds per game (tops in the Big East), the Golden Eagles have a chance to spring an "upset."
#7 DePaul vs #10 Creighton 9:30 pm ET
Both of these teams struggle to rebound (DePaul 9th in the league, Creighton 6th), they turn the ball over more than 11 times per game and they also rely on the three ball way to much. But if they get hot from beyond the arc watch out.
The Blue Jays play best in front of their home crowd in Omaha and these die hearts are expected to flock to New York City, similar to last season. Creighton has showed their competitiveness this season as they took both Butler and Villanova down to the wire. Senior point guard, Austin Chatman, is finally starting to develop into his leadership role and he is finally showing some consistency.
Last year in the first round against Georgetown, Billy Garrett Jr. played a phenomenal game as he made big play after big play down the stretch. When he is getting to the free throw line and setting up his teammates, the Blue Demons are a dangerous team. After all, they did start 5-2 in conference play.