Of the six major conference tournaments, the Big East has easily been the most difficult to predict.
Over the last seven seasons, a 6-seed or worse has advanced to the championship game every year but one, and three times during that stretch a team seeded seventh or ninth has won the league crown.
A No. 1 seed has won just four times since 2000.
Last year, 9th-seeded Connecticut won five games in five days to capture the Big East title and then used that momentum to cruise through the NCAA Tournament en route to a national championship.
Will an underseeded team emerge from nowhere to win the conference title this year, or will Syracuse, the heavy favorite, capture its third championship in eight years? Our projected odds for the 2012 Big East bracket can shed some light.
2012 Big East Tournament Round-By-Round Advancement Odds
Overall, only six of the league’s 16 teams have better than a 5 percent chance to win the title, and that doesn’t include South Florida (2.2%) or Seton Hall (0.8%), a pair of bubble teams that might have to make a bit of a run to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
The Favorite: #1 Syracuse (+130), 45.1% chance to win
Of the 16 teams participating in the Big East Tournament, only the Orange’s odds seem to present decent value. Syracuse’s 45.1 percent chance of winning is better than the implied probability of a +130 bet (43.5 percent), meaning the bet would be slightly profitable over a long period of time. The Orange dominated the Big East’s regular season, falling only at Notre Dame on Jan. 21, but nine of their wins came by single digits. Syracuse has likely already locked up a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, which means motivation could be an issue, so proceed with caution.
The Challenger: #2 Marquette (+300), 18.3% chance to win
Marquette, which earned the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament after winning 13 of its final 15 league games, has arguably its best team since 2003, when Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four. Marquette’s strong finish came after a 1-2 start in conference play, which included a victory over Villanova and consecutive defeats to Georgetown and Syracuse. The Golden Eagles are projected to be a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament, but a Big East Championship would surely give them a legitimate shot at a 2-seed.
The Dark Horse: #5 Georgetown (+800), 9.2% chance to win
The Hoyas have the third-best chance of winning the tournament despite being the 5-seed. Georgetown will face either 12th-seeded St. John’s or 13th-seeded Pittsburgh in the second round, which shouldn’t be much of a problem. The biggie here is a possible semifinal matchup with Syracuse. The Hoyas lost by just three points in overtime on the road against the Orange on Feb. 8, so if they can catch them napping in the semifinals, they’d have a strong shot at following that with another win in the Big East title game.
Odds from 5Dimes:
Notre Dame +800
South Florida +1500
West Virginia +2500
Seton Hall +8000
St. John’s +20000