Big East a victim of parity

With St. John’s back on the floor Tuesday night at Marquette (9 p.m., FS1), this is an ideal time to check in on Big East basketball. 

The Red Storm are in the unique position of being the worst team in a loaded conference. They’re 1-5 straight up in league play and rated lowest in Ken Pomeroy’s market-respected rankings, but they’re a great team to bet on (12-5-2 against the spread for the season, 4-1-1 ATS in Big East play). 

Based on a composite of informed ratings that attempt to capture team talent, you could fairly summarize the 10 Big East teams this way:

— Big Dance-caliber: Seton Hall, Butler, Villanova, Marquette, Creighton.

— Bubble-caliber: Georgetown, DePaul, Xavier, 

— NIT-caliber: Providence, St. John’s.

It will be difficult for all 10 teams to accumulate won-lost records that would qualify for postseason bids. Somebody, or a few somebodys, will lose more than its share of heartbreakers. Handicappers and bettors should remember in March that whoever does qualify for the NCAA or NIT will be battle-tested. 

Here are conference-only records entering the new week:

 

— Straight up: Seton Hall 6-0, Villanova 4-1, Providence 4-2, Butler 3-2, Creighton 3-3, Marquette 3-3, Georgetown 2-4, DePaul 1-4, Xavier 1-4, St. John’s 1-5.

— ATS: Seton Hall 5-1, St. John’s 4-1-1, Providence 4-2, Villanova 3-2, Marquette 3-3, Butler 2-3, DePaul 2-3, Creighton 2-4, Georgetown 2-4, Xavier 0-4-1. 

Fans of Seton Hall continue to bemoan the law that forbids betting on New Jersey-based college teams at local sportsbooks. The Pirates have covered all but one Big East game and are 13-5 ATS for the season. Betting markets and pollsters have been continually stubborn about giving the Hall its due. Seton Hall and St. John’s are a combined 8-1-1 ATS in conference action when not playing each other. 

Xavier has been the league’s biggest disappointment, with that 0-4-1 mark weighing down a 4-13-1 full-season record against the spread. 

To get a daily sense of the evolving Big East and national picture for handicapping guidance, bettors should regularly visit the online rankings pages of Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and teamrankings.com.

Marquette, which hosts St. John’s on Tuesday, has been in fairly good form of late. The Golden Eagles are 9-5 ATS the last 14 games and are coming off a pair of win/covers vs. Georgetown and Xavier. 

That’s Game 2 of a TV doubleheader, following Butler at Villanova (7 p.m., CBSSN). Butler face-planted last week after reaching No. 5 in the AP poll. The Bulldogs lost to Seton Hall 78-70 as five-point favorites and at DePaul 79-66 as four-point chalk. Inconsistent Villanova owns a win over Kansas but recently had to sweat close non-cover victories over DePaul and Connecticut. 

The Big East is a parity-packed conference in what has become a parity-packed sport. Handicappers must differentiate value from hype and current form from old news to stay ahead of the market curve.

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