Saturday, February 23, 2019

Green: The Big East is enjoying success this season for unconventional reasons

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Time flies by in life when you are having fun and the Big East conference season has been to this point for reasons one might not think.

Sure, the conference currently has two ranked Associated Press Top 25 teams in No. 11 Marquette and No. 17 Villanova that have towered among the other teams. On the other end, spots three through 10 have been up for grabs all season long with unpredictability in every matchup over the last couple of months with anywhere from a half of a game to two separating the group.

While the records are not anything to write home about in conference play because of the competitiveness from top to bottom, the Big East can lay claim to being the only conference in Division I with all of their teams at or above .500 overall as of this piece.

With the Big East Tournament a little under three weeks away starting on March 13 at Madison Square Garden, some of the coaches weighed in on what the stretch run could look like for their respective schools.

“Our league is incredibly competitive obviously with great coaching in our league and a lot of talented teams. The parity night in and night out is great as any team is capable of winning any game in front of them as the records have reflected that this season,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. 

“Coming down the stretch run, you will see a lot of highly competitive games as we finish the regular season on the way to the Big East Tournament.”

Creighton snapped a four-game losing streak on Feb. 20 with a 79-67 win at DePaul and coach Greg McDermott knows first-hand about enduring adversity in league play.

“There’s not a lot of difference and on any given night if you don’t have you’re A-game, then you’re probably going to get beat if you make mistakes late in games like we have in the previous four games,” McDermott said. “We have a young team and improving, but we have played well, but just didn’t finish. You have to execute your plan and building a team is a process.”

Georgetown produced its biggest statement this season with an 85-73 win over Villanova on Feb. 20 and coach Patrick Ewing knows each victory no matter the quality of opponent can be the difference between starting on the first or second the day of the conference tournament.

“It shows how competitive our league is. You have Marquette and Villanova at the top of the conference and then you have everyone else jumbled up,” Ewing said. “One win can put you up to third and one loss can put you all the way to the bottom. Every game counts towards seeding in the Big East Tournament.”

The Xavier Musketeers endured a six-game losing streak, before riding off three straight wins in league play as they have peaked at the right time.

“We have a lot of parity in this league as anyone can be beaten on any given night. A lot of these games in our league have been decided by one, two or three points and you have to execute down the stretch offensively and defensively. It will serve as a highly exciting Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden and anything can happen, that’s for sure,” Xavier coach Travis Steele said.
With basketball as the primary focus of all 10 teams, Villanova coach Jay Wright believes each year is competitive, but likes how different the storylines are each season.
“It is really interesting to me because every year is unique and I think this year for the Big East, which is relatively young and has a lot of good teams,” Wright said. 
“Outside of us and Marquette, there are not any dominant teams yet, but there are some that can grow between now and the end of the regular season. Every school is a basketball school and most of the schools have been the Final Four and you’re not looking at a major football influence. These teams are always going to be competitive every season, while some turn out to be great.”
The Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden should serve as the ultimate five-star appetizer on the road to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.