Buzz again. As you may have noticed we have recently added some new friends to our Big East and Beyond Family. I felt this was the best time to officially welcome Hamm, Slinky, Rex, Mr. Potato Head, and Woody! Zurg and I felt that adding more toys to the toy box was only going to get more opinions out there, get more loud voices heard, and make it all the more entertaining for you the reader.
Our first Andy’s Toy Box Debate (God, I love Toy Story references) you ask? The Big East Tournament! Each of us has given you our pick to win the tournament, a dark horse in the field, and who we feel will be player of the championship will be. The Big East teams have a ton riding on the next couple nights so it should be quite an entertaining ride. Let’s get started.
- My Pick: St. John’s. I know that most people will tell you that this is a tournament between Creighton and Villanova, but the Red Storm has a couple things going for them. They are on their home floor, their backs are against the wall, and they will be confident. They already beat Creighton once and barely got nipped by Villanova on the road. So why not Steve Lavin, huh?
- My Darkhorse: Georgetown. The Hoyas have a chance to really to make a run this year. They start with DePaul, where they should roll and get out all of their nerves. Then they get Creighton who they already played once with an NCAA bid on the line. Look out for the Hoyas this week.
- Player of the Tournament: D’Angelo Harrison. Since I think St. John’s will win it is only fitting that their lightning rod will carry them to cutting the nets down. He will score a bunch of points, make a few clutch plays, and help them ride the wave into the NCAA field.
- My Pick: Villanova. This team has done what it needs to all season. The Cats have beaten every team in the Big East not located in Omaha, Nebraska both home and away – and while a potential showdown with Creighton on Saturday night could give the Wildcats trouble again, I think it is more likely that Creighton will slip before then. The Bluejays will play a desperate Georgetown on Thursday before playing another team in dire need of a win on Friday night (regardless if it is Marquette or Xavier). So, I am taking Villanova over Creighton simply because the Cats have proven all season that they can take care of business against the rest of the Big East.
- My Darkhorse: I am taking the Big East’s preseason favorite, Marquette. This horse might be darker than the rest, but I think Buzz Williams will have his boys ready. Coming off three straight losses (including back-to-back in 2OT), Marquette may very well come out flat and quickly be on the flight back to Wisconsin – but for some reason, I don’t see seniors Davante Gardner, Jamil Wilson, and Chris Otule going down without a fight. Xavier will be shorthanded in the frontcourt on Thursday without Matt Stainbrook, and I think Marquette will take advantage and advance. Once the Golden Eagles get to Friday night, anything is possible. The scenario I see working out for Buzz Williams and the crew, however, is a Georgetown upset over Creighton, setting up a very winnable game in the semi-final.
- Player of the Tournament: Darrun Hillard. Villanova’s guard will shine the brightest in New York City. This could be any of the Wildcats’ remaining core four (James Bell, Jayvaughn Pinkston, or Ryan Arcidiacono), but Hilliard has been hot of late, averaging 21.3 Points, 3.3 Rebounds, and 1.7 Assists and shooting 56.3% from 3P range over his last three games. He’ll be the one to hit the big shots for the Cats this week.
- My Pick: Villanova. This team is the most complete team in the tournament and in my opinion the best defensive team. The wildcats are used to the atmosphere and have the experience to go through the grind of a potential 3 games in 3 days.
- My Darkhorse: Georgetown. The Hoyas have been extremely inconsistent this year; however, I believe they have the moxy and coaching experience to make a splash. I believe you win in March with guards and Starks along with Smith-Rivera will carry the Hoyas deep into the tournament.
- Player of the Tournament: Ryan Arcidiacano. He has been wildly inconsistent, but has found a groove of late. I believe teams will focus on Bell and Pinkston defensively and Arch will have plenty of opportunities of his own as a result. Look for him to be the wildcats’ catalyst this weekend.
- Pick to win: Creighton. In my opinion Creighton has been given the easier side of the bracket despite earning the second seed in the Big East Tournament. The main reason for this – avoiding St. John’s. The Red Storm has a distinct advantage of playing at home and will cause a problem for Providence and Villanova. Expect a battle in the final game for Creighton against Villanova or St. John’s, but the Blue Jays will pull it out.
- Sleeper Pick: St. John’s. I don’t know if it qualifies as a sleeper at home, but a 5-seed certainly garners underdog status. The Red Storm surged in the Big East after starting 0-5 in conference, played Villanova tough at home, and beat Creighton back on February 9th. They certainly have the talent and home support to win the tournament and get a much-needed automatic berth.
- Player of the tournament: Doug McDermott. McBuckets on the biggest stage – Madison Square Garden, what more could you want? A perfect ending to McDermott’s short but dominate Big East career.
- My Pick: Villanova. My pick for the Big East Tournament is none other than #3 Villanova Wildcats who have taken a lot of flak from sports writers lately for their two losses to #14 Creighton. This aggressive and athletic Wildcats team may lack size, but has no fear getting dirty on the defensive glass. I believe Villanova will not face Creighton again as it will be Villanova v. Xavier in the Big East final.
- My Dark horse: St. John’s. The Red Strom as of lately have really upped their play in the second half of the season with quality wins against Creighton, Georgetown, and Providence. They are looking to get off the bubble and into a March Madness slot. They need to make a good showing here in order to punch their ticket to the big dance. They also played Villanova tight in their last meeting, which if a couple calls went their way could have been a big WIN for the Johnnies.
- Player of the Tournament: James Bell. I selected the Villanova Senior from Orlando, Florida… Mr. James “Jimmy” Bell. His senior leadership and 14.9 PPG have led the Wildcats thus far, and look for that to continue in their pursuit of a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Mr. Potato Head:
- My Pick: Villanova. One of the toughest and grittiest teams in the nation and with their ability to defend and rebound with smaller players who can run the floor and shoot, they should be able to make a run and win the whole tournament. While they have lost twice, in convincing fashion to Creighton, it is very difficult to beat a top 5 team 3 times.
- My Darkhorse: St. John’s. With the backing of their home crowd and the comfort of playing in their home arena, the young Johnnies have yet to play their basketball and I see the Red Storm turning on the heat led by their coach Steve Lavin. D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan lead a young and explosive backcourt that look to make a splash at MSG.
- Player of the Tournament: Darrun Hilliard. The 6’6” shooting guard for the Villanova Wildcats has been a difference-maker for the #3 team in the nation and looks to continue his hot shooting and slashing in the Mecca of Basketball. For the Wildcats to make the run many expect them to make, Hilliard will need to come up big like he has all year. He is averaging 14.4 PPG and is shooting 41.4% from 3 point land.
- My Pick: Creighton. Judging by what has happened so far this season, I like Creighton’s road to the title this year. Especially with St. John’s being on the opposite side to potentially battle Villanova. Look out for the Blue Jays, they are bringing all of Nebraska to MSG.
- My Darkhorse: Butler. Don’t expect me to have Butler win the thing, but they’ve been playing good basketball as of late. If they can keep that momentum up, anything can happen. I really think they could pull off a win, or even two here.
- Player of the Tournament: Doug McDermott. If Creighton is going to win the ship, they’re going to hop on the back of their walk-on Dougie McBuckets, who is POY front-runner. I expect a continuation of the dominance he’s had all season and another few high-scoring outbursts.