The Big East Tournament continues under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden on Thursday, with a bevy of quarterfinal games that could have serious implications for several teams fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives. The Big East will wrap up their tourney with a championship game Saturday.
The third-seeded Xavier Musketeers are looking to reignite their fire after losing to Villanova, 77-70, on Mar. 6. The Musketeers have a solid grasp on an NCAA Tournament bid, but would like to charge through to the Big East title game as a means of re-establishing themselves after they tripped through the last two months of the season. Marquette is on the tournament bubble and hoping to gum up the works for its conference opponents with every win in the Big East Tournament. Look for Semaj Christon to attack off the bounce for Xavier.
When No. 4 Providence takes on No. 5 St. John's, all eyes will be on Bryce Cotton. The senior guard for the Friars is an attacking, three-point shooting, dime-dishing handful and the Red Storm will need everything they have on the defensive end to stop him. Or, they can do what they did the last time these two teams met and shut down everyone else. The Red Storm beat the Friars in their last matchup, 86-76, on Feb. 4 with a balanced scoring attack and by forcing 15 turnovers.
Top-seeded Villanova draws Seton Hall for its first game of the tournament. The Wildcats are riding a six-game winning streak with three double-digit victories in their last four outings. Seton Hall struggled mightily in both of its outings against Nova, losing by a combined 33 points. This one shouldn't be a problem for Jay Wright's team, who have only lost to Creighton and Syracuse this season.
The No. 2 Creighton Bluejays tumbled down the rankings with two losses in their last three games to close the regular season. One of those losses was to Georgetown, who lost in a shocker to DePaul in the opening round. Instead of a tough matchup against the Hoyas, the Bluejays gets a Blue Demons team that finished the Big East regular season with a 3-15 record. Creighton cruised in both games against DePaul in the regular season, winning both by double digits.
Full schedule for Thursday:
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, 12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 St. John's, 2:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
No. 2 Creighton vs. No. 10 DePaul, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 6 Marquette, 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1