NCAAB

Can Anyone Topple UConn in the Big East Tournament?

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere
Can Anyone Topple UConn in the Big East Tournament?

New York, New York! This week, the Big East Conference basketball tournament will head to Madison Square Garden for the 42nd consecutive year.

The Big East men's game features three teams ranked inside the top 10 in the NCAA’s national rankings, including the defending national champion UConn Huskies.

With UConn looking to win their first Big East tournament since 2010-11 and Marquette attempting to win back-to-back titles, what do the Big East tournament odds look like at FanDuel Sportsbook?

The action tips off on Wednesday, March 13th and concludes with the Championship on Saturday, March 16th. Before the Big East tournament starts, let's look at the bracket, betting odds and best bets.

All NCAA basketball odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

Big East Tournament Bracket

Big East Tournament Odds

2024 Big East Conference Tournament Winner
Odds
Connecticut-150
Creighton+390
Marquette+600
St. John's+1300
Villanova+2000
Seton Hall+3000
Providence+7000
View Full Table

Big East Tournament Best Bets

UConn (-150)

Since their two-point loss to eventual champion Marquette in the semifinals of last year’s Big East conference tournament, the Huskies have been on top of the men’s game. After winning the national championship, they seamlessly replaced three key departures and won their first solo regular-season Big East title since 1999.

Last season, the Huskies struggled in conference play (13-7). This season, they excelled in it, notching an 18-2 record and leading the conference in both points per game (81.1) and points allowed per game (64.0). They spent six weeks at No.1 in the AP Poll and enter this weekend as the odds-on favorite (+480) to win the national championship.

numberFire's metrics also favor the Huskies this week. UConn’s nERD (18.83) is fourth-best overall and ranks first among Big East schools, ahead of both Marquette (15.33) and Creighton (15.59).

Under Head Coach Dan Hurley, UConn has become a dominant offensive team. Their 0.995 offensive rating leads college basketball. Their defensive rating (0.925) is third-best among teams ranked inside the top 10 in nERD.

UConn enters this week’s tournament with just one loss in their last 19 games. The Huskies feature a pair of players projected to be first-round selections in this year’s draft -- guard Stephon Castle and 7-foot-2 center Donovan Clingan -- but their strength comes from their versatility. All five of their starters average at least 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

The Huskies will also benefit from their projected path to the finals, which sees them avoid the other two top-10 teams until the final. There are worthy challengers, but make no mistake about it, the Big East runs through UConn, and they are deserving favorites.

Creighton (+390)

One of those challengers is Creighton, who sit in a tier of their own well behind UConn but ahead of the next closest team, Marquette (+600).

The Bluejays finished just behind UConn in points per game (80.8), and their nERD (15.59) is second-best in the Big East and 11th-best overall. Their defense is a concern; 69.5 points allowed per game tied for fourth in the Big East and their defensive rating (0.767) is well behind UConn’s. That said, if you’re going to upset the Huskies you have to be able to hang with them, and Creighton has the firepower to do so.

They are one of only three teams in college basketball to defeat UConn this year. Their 85-66 win over the Huskies in late February is UConn’s largest loss of the season. Their 85 points in that contest are the most points allowed by the Huskies this season, and they are one of just five teams to hold UConn to under 67 points in a game.

Creighton will also have the benefit of experience. Of their six players that average more than 20 minutes per game, four are seniors and one is a junior. Their trio of Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman, and Ryan Kalkbrenner all average more than 17.0 points per game and have been playing together for two full seasons. Come tournament time, that continuity can be a huge plus.

As the two seed, the Bluejays will likely have to contend with Marquette in the semifinals. When they do, the Golden Eagles could be without their star guard, Tyler Kolek, who missed the final two games of the regular season with an oblique injury. When the two sides met on March 2nd with Kolek unavailable, Creighton won 89-75. Kolek’s status will have a large impact on the Bluejays’ projected path through the tournament.

St. John’s (+1300)

In the first year of their rebuild under new head coach Rick Pitino, St. John’s finished with a 19-12 record overall (11-9 in the Big East), good for a fifth-place finish. In terms of odds, the Red Storm sits in a “best of the rest” position -- well behind the trio of UConn, Creighton, and Marquette but also a good bit ahead of Villanova (+2000).

On offense, St. John’s is in within shouting distance of the teams ahead of them on the odds board. Their 78.1 points per game in the Big East ranks fourth. On defense, their 71.2 points allowed per game ranks seventh. numberFire's NCAAB Power Rankings have the Red Storm (11.50 nERD) ranked 36th of 363 D1 institutions -- fifth-best among Big East schools.

The good news for St. John’s is they may be peaking at the right time. They enter the tournament on a five-game win streak with at least 80 points scored in each of their last five games. That streak includes an 80-66 upset victory over Creighton and a 104-point performance against DePaul.

The bad news for St. John’s is their opponent is their opening game, Seton Hall, is also the last team to hand them a loss -- a 68-62 defeat on February 18th. They are 0-2 against the Pirates this season. As the fifth seed, the Red Storm will also have the extremely challenging task, should they defeat Seton Hall, of facing UConn in the semifinals.

Whoever wins the Big East will likely have to face the Huskies at some point. For St. John’s, that showdown would come before the finals. In their two games against UConn this season, St. John’s is 0-2 with a 4-point loss in December and a 13-point loss in early February.

Seeking their first NCAA tournament appearance since a First 4 loss in 2018-19, there is a lot on the line for the Red Storm this week. It will be an extremely difficult task, but a win over Seton Hall could see them carry some serious positive momentum into a showdown with the Huskies.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.