No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament will be on the line when the Big East begins its conference tournament in New York on Tuesday. Top seeds Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Villanova won’t play until Thursday’s quarterfinals, but the top three seeds could all be in contention for top lines in the NCAA bracket. Three other Big East teams — Syracuse, West Virginia and Marquette — have locked up at-large bids, but Providence can enhance its chance by winning a couple of games in Madison Square Garden. Three other teams — No. 9 seed Cincinnati, No. 10 seed Notre Dame and No. 12 seed Georgetown — would probably have to make an unlikely run to the tournament’s championship game to have even a remote chance on Selection Sunday.
Providence [18-12 (10-8), RPI: 71, SOS: 48] The Friars will probably have to win at least once in this week’s Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York to have a chance at an at-large bid. They’ll play the winner of DePaul/Cincinnati in Wednesday’s second round and, with a victory, would play No. 1 seed Louisville in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Providence is coming off a 97-80 loss at Villanova on Thursday, which didn’t help its at-large chances. The Friars have four blowout road losses in Big East play, losing at Connecticut by 33 points, Louisville by 18, Villanova by 17 and West Virginia by 27. The Friars upset then-No. 1 Pittsburgh 81-73 on Feb. 24 and also beat Syracuse 100-94 on Jan. 28. PC also swept games against Cincinnati and beat Rhode Island at home. Providence is 2-8 against RPI top-50 foes and 6-12 against the top 100.