Conference tournaments never really feel like they begin until the Thursday games tip off and, boy, did that ever hold true in the Big East tournament.
With Big East favorites Villanova and Creighton opening their tournament, among four other teams—and Day 1 survivors Seton Hall and DePaul looking to keep their momentum going—Thursday's action promised some excellent action and meaningful results.
Below, we'll track all the Day 2 action, along with taking a look ahead at the remainder of the tournament.
|Big East Tournament Results|
|Villanova vs. Seton Hall||Seton Hall wins, 64-63|
|St. John's vs. Providence||Providence wins, 79-74|
|DePaul vs. Creighton||Creighton wins, 84-62|
|Marquette vs. Xavier||Xavier wins, 68-65|
Schedule and Bracket
|Updated Big East Bracket|
|Seton Hall vs. Providence||Semifinals||Friday at 7 p.m. ET|
|Creighton vs. Xavier||Semifinals||Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET|
|TBD||Final||Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET|
|All games on Fox Sports 1|
Xavier 68, Marquette 65
Xavier hung on to its slim lead throughout the contest, effectively beating Marquette by a final score of 68-65. The Musketeers showed a great amount of resilience, as they continued to thrive in the face of adversity.
Semaj Christon was stellar once again, going six of 13 from the field for 18 points, and adding five assists. He was complemented by the sharpshooting Justin Martin, who scored 19 points, including going three of six from behind the arc, and padding his numbers with four rebounds.
Marquette was rather inconsistent throughout the contest. Deonte Burton and Todd Mayo were fantastic, combining for 44 points; although, not a single other member of the Golden Eagles was able to post double-digit numbers.
That kind of lopsided offense is sure to doom any team this late in tournament play.
All was not well for Xavier, however. The Musketeers allowed Marquette to shoot 57.8 percent from the field, while Xavier only managed to make 46.9 percent of its shots. Xavier was also out rebounded by Marquette 29 to 23.
A win is a win, but Xavier will need a much better showing if they are to content with the high-octane Creighton Bluejays and Doug McDermott on Friday.
Creighton 84, DePaul 62
Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays were simply too much for the DePaul Blue Demons to handle on Thursday night. McDermott continued his hot streak, putting up an impressive 35 points, adding five rebounds, three assists and one steal. He was on fire from downtown, connecting on seven of his 10 three-point attempts.
McDermott received help from his sharpshooting guards Austin Chatman and Jahenns Manigat, who went five of six and five of seven from the field, respectively.
The Bluejays' combination of perimeter shooting and toughness in the paint—they out rebounded DePaul 33 to 27—proved to be a devastating winning combination.
Creighton started strong, outscoring DePaul 49 to 29 in the first half and didn't look back. The Bluejays let off the gas a bit in the second half due to their massive lead but still outscored the Blue Demons 35-33 in that span.
The mix of offensive and defensive prowess makes Creighton arguably the team to beat over the remainder of the tournament. The Bluejays shot 60.4 percent as a team from the field, and only allowed DePaul to connect on 37.5 percent of its shots.
This convincing win moves Creighton to the semifinals against the winner of Xavier against Marquette. After seeing this final score, both teams should not be too excited about potentially having to face McDermott and Co. on Friday.
Providence 79, St. John's 74
Both Providence and St. John's entered the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament with high hopes of gaining a victory. After all, these teams split their regular season contests, including forcing a double-overtime thriller back on Jan. 16.
St. John's won the last competition between these two teams, and looked to have the edge on Thursday, riding a two-game winning streak. However, the Friars wouldn't be denied again, winning a closely contested game by a score of 79-74.
The Friars flourished thanks to the strong play of Josh Fortune. The sophomore guard scored a career-high 24 points during Thursday's win. Although the victory did not come easy.
According to the Providence Friars' Twitter account, Fortune explained the reason for his confident play:
Providence head coach Ed Cooley has been delighted with Fortune's play of late, according to a tweet from Vin Parise:
After pulling ahead to a 17-point lead, the Friars defense began to collapse, allowing St. John's to get back to within one point with just over one minute remaining. Although, Providence showed its resilience, fending off the Red Storm's late-game surge to hold on to the win.
Providence will face No. 8 Seton Hall on Friday after its upset victory over Villanova on Thursday. The Friars haven't punched their ticket into the field of 68 for the upcoming NCAA tournament just yet, and may need a victory over Seton Hall to get there.
Seton Hall 64, Villanova 63
Villanova entered the Big East tournament as the prohibitive favorites, with a No. 1 seed in the East Region within their grasps. Seton Hall ruined those dreams.
The Pirates shocked No. 1 seed Villanova, 64-63, as Sterling Gibbs hit a game-winning shot as time expired to sink the Wildcats. Gibbs finished with 10 points coming off the bench, while Gene Teague (19 points, 12 rebounds) was an absolute beast for the Pirates.
Josh Hart led Villanova with 18 points, on an afternoon when Nova made just 4 of 19 shots from beyond the arc. The Wildcats are going to have a very short trip in the NCAA tournament if they shoot that poorly from the perimeter, that much is for certain.
Of course, a No. 1 seed bowing out of the Big East tournament is nothing new, as Brett Edgerton of ESPN notes:
Still, this isn't your daddy's Big East, as Andy Glockner suggests:
And as Gary Parrish of CBS tweeted, Nova's loss really shakes up the top of the NCAA bracket:
Yet Jay Wright doesn't seem particularly bothered by likely losing that No. 1 seed, per Matt Norlander of CBS Sports:
There will probably be a few teams out there that might end up earning that No. 1 seed in the East Region and will be more than happy to claim it, however. This was a blown opportunity for a Nova team, though given their energetic, perimeter-style of play, they'll either be a nightmare for pretty much any team to defend or a nightmare for their themselves if they struggle from the field.
This is a team that beat Kansas, remember. They'll be a tough out no matter where they are seeded.