New Jersey bettors have an emotional stake with Seton Hall, and most likely a financial stake with nearby Villanova, as a talent-heavy Big East tournament unfolds at Madison Square Garden.
The two teams, who capture significant interest in the Garden State, both look headed to the Big Dance next week.
The only question is how they will exit the Big East extravaganza, one of the most popular postseason conference tournaments.
Because New Jersey gamblers can’t wager on Garden State college teams, let’s look at both the betting and non-betting overview of the Big East.
Seton Hall’s Big East Tournament Chances
The non-betting angle is pertinent to Seton Hall.
Here’s the tournament lineup:
It’s loaded. Villanova (8), Providence (11), and UConn (20) are all in the AP’s top 25, while Seton Hall has 20 wins and Creighton has 21.
No team can be considered a prohibitive favorite.
Big East Tournament Schedule
First round — Wednesday, March 9
Game 1: No. 8 Xavier vs. No. 9 Butler | 4:30 p.m. on FS1
Game 2: No. 7 St. John’s vs. No. 10 DePaul | 7 p.m. on FS1
Game 3: No. 6 Seton Hall vs. No. 11 Georgetown | 9:30 p.m. on FS1
Quarterfinals — Thursday, March 10
Game 4: No. 1 Providence vs. Game 1 winner | Noon on FS1
Game 5: No. 4 Creighton vs. No. 5 Marquette | 2:30 p.m. on FS1
Game 6: No. 2 Villanova vs. Game 2 winner | 7 p.m. on FS1
Game 7: No. 3 UConn vs. Game 3 winner | 9:30 p.m. on FS1
Semifinals — Friday, March 11
Game 8: Game 4 winner vs. Creighton/Marquette | 6:30 p.m. on FS1
Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner | 9 p.m. on FS1
Big East Tournament Championship Game — Saturday, March 12
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner | 6:30 p.m. on FOX
Seton Hall enters with momentum. The Pirates ended on a five-game winning streak to become 20-9.
Seton Hall moved up in ESPN bracketology to a projected NCAA tournament sixth seed in the East. It’s all speculation, of course, but mirrors the fact that the Hall has been on a roll.
ESPN had Seton Hall a projected eight seed two weeks ago.
To seize a March Madness dance berth, Seton Hall presumably needs to advance at least partway through the Big East tournament. The Pirates take on hapless No. 11 Georgetown, 6-24, in the opening-round game.
By beating Creighton last Saturday, Seton Hall secured its sixth 20-win season over the last seven years, and coach Kevin Willard now has seven 20-win seasons overall.
After going 3-5 in January, the Pirates were a combined 8-2 in February and March.
A victory against Georgetown would propel the Pirates into a matchup with Connecticut on Thursday.
Seton Hall’s recent notable games include a 73-67 loss to Villanova, a 70-65 setback to UConn, and a tight 73-68 triumph last week against Georgetown.
Big East Tournament Odds At NJ Sportsbooks
Who will be the beast of the Big East? The DraftKings Sportsbook board on Tuesday clearly outlined the haves and have nots.
Big East favorites include the following:
No. 2 seed Villanova was favored at +150, while No. 3 seed UConn was next at +330.
No. 1 seed Providence does not merit the same betting respect. The Friars are +425 and an excellent value compared to Villanova, which owns two narrow victories over them. Is this an overlay?
Fifth-seeded Marquette follows at +700, with the No. 4 seed Creighton at +1000.
Big East underdogs show the following odds:
- Xavier +1700
- John’s +2200
- Butler +4000
- DePaul +8000
Georgetown is in another zip code, at +30000. And this is after the Hoyas won the Big East last year.
Caesars Sportsbook has a slight variation on the Big East, giving a little more love to Villanova as the +130 favorite.
Providence has good betting odds to start the tournament at +500 as a No. 1 seed. Value bettors will be all over that.
The betting will be substantial, especially after the qualifying games.
“The conference tournaments in general are huge,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJGS. “We were writing a ton of money on this and we weren’t even to the major conferences yet.”
“If this is any indication of what the conference tournaments and the championship tournaments are going to do, it’s going to be extraordinary.”
“As for the Big East, there is a lot of good value,” he added.
“There is no real heavy chalk. Villanova is the favorite, but we all know that these teams are well-matched and some teams can come out of nowhere and win this thing. Now I wouldn’t give Georgetown a shot, or DePaul, but it would not surprise me if Butler made a little run or if St. John’s made a little run.”
Analyzing Big East Basketball
Here is a look at some of the top teams:
The Wildcats, just a few miles outside of the Garden State, entered tournament week as the 8th-ranked team in the country.
Villanova, 23-7, averages slightly more than 74 points a game and yields just over 66.
This is a balanced team without a big scorer, but with significant depth. Four players averaged double-figure scoring for the regular season. They include:
- Collin Gillespie 16.3 points
- Justin Moore 15.3
- Jermaine Samuels 10.3
- Caleb Daniels 10.1
The Huskies, 21-9, beat DePaul in their last regular-season game and come in having won six of seven. They split with Villanova, with each team winning at home.
The 24-5 Friars won the league title for the first time in school history. The two nail-biter losses with favored Villanova mean a lot of bettors may see prime value in them.
The Golden Eagles own two victories over Villanova, but suffered a 3-4 February and come in looking inconsistent.
A mark of 21-9 is pretty good for a fourth seed.
Betting On Additional NCAA Conference Tournaments
Avello indicates there are good values across the board in many conferences and advises gamblers to look for teams that have had some tough losses against top-caliber competition.
A prototype in this example would be a team like Mississippi State, which is 17-14 and ranked 10th in the SEC tournament. A long shot to be sure, at +5000.
And the tournament is stacked with Kentucky, Auburn, and Tennessee.
But if the team gets hot, it might at least cover a huge underdog spread and perhaps spring an upset.
Another angle is momentum.
Tennessee, +330 in the SEC, went 9-1 in February and scored a victory over tourney-favored Kentucky.
(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)