2023 College Basketball Big East Tournament Picks & Predictions

Mar 6, 2023 - 4:43 PM

Championship Week is always one of the most exciting weeks of the year, as there’s nonstop action from Tuesday to Sunday.

Since I started following college hoops as a kid in the early 2000s, the Big East Tournament has always felt more special than the rest. And that feeling only grew stronger as I attended a Big East college (Marquette). I was in school when the conference reformed and witnessed the conference grow into its own unique brand over the last several seasons.

This year’s Big East Tournament has the potential to be a thriller, as there are at least five teams with a viable chance of punching an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a full breakdown of this year’s Big East Tournament, including my best bet to cut down the nets at Madison Square Garden Saturday night:

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2023 College Basketball Big East Tournament Picks & Predictions

(Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook)

Big East Tournament Bracket

Below is the full bracket for the Big East Tournament:

Big East Tournament Odds 

Below are the odds to win the Big East Tournament.

Teams to Throw Out 

As the odds above indicate, the Big East has been a conference with an upper class and a lower class. In fact, the top five teams in the conference went 44-6 in matchups against the conference’s five bottom feeders.

Seton Hall

Seton Hall plays elite defense, ranking 19th in adjusted defensive efficiency per BartTorvik. However, they are broken too often on the other side of the floor to be anything more than a nuisance for an Xavier team they lost to by 22 points at home a couple of weeks ago.

St. John’s

St. John’s is always an intriguing long shot because they’re playing at home. Should they knock off Butler, they have the talent to give Marquette fits in the quarterfinal. St. John’s nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback in the closing seconds of the season finale against the Big East regular season champs. However, the Johnnies play at a frantic pace and are a highly inefficient team from the floor. Plus, head coach Mike Anderson is likely on his way out after the season.

Butler, Georgetown, DePaul

Butler, Georgetown and DePaul have been the conference bottom feeders all year and aren’t even worth a flyer at their massive odds.

Teams to Consider


As I mentioned above, at least five teams can cut down the nets at MSG. The sixth team could be Villanova, which enters this tournament as a complete wild card. The Wildcats will play in Wednesday’s first round for the first time since the Big East reformed.

The first year of the Kyle Neptune era hasn’t gone smoothly. Despite returning plenty of talent from last season’s Final Four team, the Wildcats sat at 10-13 on Feb. 4 and seemed left for dead. Since then, Villanova has gone 6-2 with wins over Xavier and Creighton. Senior guard Justin Moore has gotten healthy and is the engine that drives Villanova’s success offensively. But Villanova’s play on the defensive end could result in an early exit.

Assuming Villanova takes down rival Georgetown on Wednesday, the Wildcats will match up with a Creighton team they played tight all season, then likely Xavier in the semifinal. UConn or Marquette will likely await them in the final.

Considering Villanova will have to win four games in four days, I don’t see much value in them at 8/1. If you’re interested in backing the Wildcats, you’ll likely get better odds by doing a moneyline rollover. That means bet Villanova to beat Georgetown, then take those winnings and roll it over into Villanova on the moneyline against Creighton, and so on.


As for the teams with byes to the quarterfinal, Connecticut is rightfully the favorite to win the Big East tourney for the first time since 2011, when Kemba Walker led them on an incredible run. UConn closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak. They have the ninth-most efficient offense in the country and can score from inside and on the perimeter, with big man Adama Sanogo and guard Jordan Hawkins leading the way. The sophomore Hawkins has found his groove as of late, scoring at least 20 points in four of his last five contests.

The Huskies also play excellent defense, ranking 19th in adjusted efficiency. However, if there’s one flaw Connecticut has, it’s that it sends its opponents to the free-throw line far too often. That could be problematic in UConn’s quarterfinal matchup with Providence, who gets to the charity stripe at a high rate.


Top-seeded Marquette runs one of the most beautiful offenses in the country and has a deep roster with multiple players who can get a bucket when they need one. The Golden Eagles are the best two-point shooting team in the country and hardly even take mid-range jump shots. On the defensive end, Marquette is susceptible to the three-point shot and struggles mightily on the defensive glass. UConn could be a mismatch for them, as the Huskies are physical on the interior and the best offensive-rebounding team in the country.


Xavier has the offensive potency to win this entire tournament. Unfortunately, they’ll have to go the rest of the way without big man Zach Freemantle, who will undergo season-ending foot surgery. That’s a huge loss for a Xavier frontcourt that lacks depth behind center Jack Nunge. However, the Musketeers have a talented backcourt duo featuring Souley Boum and Colby Jones, who can go off anytime.

Creighton & Providence

Creighton and Providence are the two most confounding teams in this conference. The Bluejays grade out strongly analytically and rank 12th in the country, according to Torvik. However, Creighton went 3-3 to close the year with wins coming against St. John’s, Georgetown, and DePaul. Meanwhile, the Jays lost to Providence, Marquette, and Villanova during that stretch. I wonder if this is a team that’s a bit overrated analytically.

I love Creighton’s ceiling, as Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander, Ryan Nembhard, and Baylor Scheierman are all capable scorers from different sections of the floor. But the Bluejays don’t have much depth and have a really tough path that’ll most likely include Villanova, Xavier, and Marquette or UConn.

Providence was in the thick of the Big East regular season race before losing three of their final four games. I’ll never count Ed Cooley out, and they should give UConn everything they can handle in the quarterfinal. The Friars also have five players averaging double figures this season, with Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins leading the way.

However, Providence’s offense is too dependent upon offensive rebounding and getting to the free-throw line. The Friars are also far from a defensive juggernaut, ranking 120th in adjusted efficiency on that end. I love betting on Providence as an underdog, but they may be a team I bet to cover their games, not win the tournament outright.

Big East Tournament Best Bet 

I hate being Mr. Chalk, but this feels like UConn’s tournament to win. The Huskies are playing great basketball down the stretch, have a variety of ways to beat you offensively, and can shut you down defensively from both inside and outside the arc.

I also like UConn’s path to the title as the best among the top seeds. Providence won’t be an easy out, but UConn should be able to overpower them down the stretch. And as much as it pains me to say this as a Marquette alum, the Huskies are a nightmare matchup for the Golden Eagles. They’ll then most likely face a Xavier team without Freemantle, a Creighton team that likely had to get through Villanova and Xavier, or a Villanova team that’s thin on depth and playing its fourth game in four days.

No path to a Big East Tournament final is easy, but I like UConn’s draw quite a bit.

The pick: UConn (+230)

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