(2) Georgetown v. (1) Denver
Denver earned its second Big East Tournament title in as many seasons following the Pioneers' 16-8 victory over Georgetown. The Pioneers close their pre-NCAA Tournament season with a 13-2 record. Georgetown stands at 10-6, the team's first 10-win season since a 12-3 effort in 2007. Connor Cannizzaro led Denver with eight points on five goals and three assists while Bo Stafford accumulated a one-and-four stat line.
Denver simply did not deviate from its template. The first half was an exemplary illustration of the Pioneers' profile in 2015: Running with an estimated plus-five possession margin, Denver converted on almost 63 percent -- !!!!!! -- of its offensive opportunities in the first 30 minutes of the game, shooting 50 percent and committing only two turnovers on the team's 16 estimated offensive opportunities. Georgetown, meanwhile, played well but was unable to keep pace with the Big East's best team: Despite converting on almost 55 percent of the Hoyas' 11 estimated offensive opportunities, the team's 54.44 percent shooting rate was diminished by Georgetown's four turnovers -- accounting for around a third of the Hoyas' estimated offensive opportunities -- and the team's overall possession deficit. The first two quarters were played at only 27 estimated possessions, Denver's preferred pragmatic pace. This is a bright reflection of why playing Denver is so difficult: The team isn't perfectly balanced, but the Pios' offense is incredibly good and is permitted to operate with unnecessary volume in an atmosphere where additional opportunities do not exist due to a focus on compressing tempo. Denver's 10-6 advantage at the intermission felt greater than the actual margin, even though Georgetown's performance in the first half was strong and with purpose (the team's turnover rate aside).
The second half was the logical conclusion to Denver's first half thesis. The Pioneers weren't quite as destructive as the team was in the first 30 minutes, but Denver was sufficiently dominate to double the lead that it earned at the intermission. Playing a leisurely 27 estimated possessions in the second half, Denver only scored on north of 35 percent of its estimated offensive opportunities while the defense tightened up and allowed goals on only 20 percent of the Pios' estimated defensive opportunities. That fact is more impressive than the estimated plus-seven possession margin that the Pioneers created in the final two quarters of regulation: Limiting the Hoyas to only 11.11 percent shooting and earning a 77.78 save percentage, the Pioneers balanced their portrait when Georgetown needed to make a charge to potentially change the Hoyas' future.
Denver will certainly earn a high seed when the selection committee announces its bracket on Selection Sunday, the biggest residue of the team's seed being a potential home game in the quarterfinal round. Georgetown, contrastingly, will suffer through a long Sunday as its destiny is now controlled without the Hoyas' locker room.