Villanova came into the Big East tournament with hopes of clinching a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament and taking the conference crown. After a cold-blooded shot from Sterling Gibbs of Seton Hall in the quarterfinals, the Wildcats will come away with neither as the Pirates downed the No. 1 seed, 64-63, in Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
ESPN College Basketball provides a look at the final score from the Big East tournament:
Welcome to #ChampWeek! Top seeded Villanova falls to Seton Hall (6-12 in Big East play) 64-63 on a Sterling Gibbs buzzer beater!— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 13, 2014
The Wildcats led 63-62 with just seconds remaining in the second half. That was when Gibbs went into full-blown hero mode for Seton Hall to pull off the stunning upset.
Chris Littman of SportingNews.com provides a look at the huge shot from Gibbs on Vine:
The win isn't the first upset of the tournament after DePaul defeated Georgetown during the opening round, but it was certainly the biggest.
Nova came in with just two losses in Big East play and hadn't lost a game since Feb. 16 against Creighton. In the two games played during the regular season between the two teams, Villanova won by an average of 16.5 points.
The loss not only knocks the Wildcats out of the Big East tournament, but it also ruins any hopes of taking a No. 1 overall seed in March Madness.
Gary Parrish of CBS talked about just that following the game:
Final: Seton Hall 64, Villanova 63. At the buzzer. Wild. And the fourth No. 1 seed is now very much up for grabs.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 13, 2014
Jay Williams of ESPN also had a knee-jerk reaction to the outcome:
Good bye number 1 seed Villanova!!!! Wildcats go down to Seton Hall. @ESPNCBB— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) March 13, 2014
To say that Gibbs was an unlikely hero is a bit of an understatement. The former Texas point guard is in his first season with the Pirates after sitting out last season.
Gibbs was coming off the bench during the game and was one of only eight players to tally minutes for Seton Hall. Though he only finished 4-of-10 with 10 points and six assists, he made one of the most memorable shots in recent memory for the Pirates.
The sophomore transfer spoke about the victory and his team's confidence following the win, per Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv:
Sterling Gibbs: "It was big time. You beat the No. 3 team in the country. It's always a good feeling."— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 13, 2014
Gibbs: "You're coming into the tournament knwoing that you have to win 4 games in 4 days. To get one step closer to that is a good feeling."— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 13, 2014
Villanova head coach Jay Wright also chimed in about his disappointment with the loss, according to Zagoria:
Jay Wright on losing No. 1 seed in NCAAs: "Winning the Big East Tournament would mean more to us than being a 1 seed."— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 13, 2014
While the loss means the Wildcats won't be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, they are still a contender when the competition officially gets underway.
Regardless of whether they are ultimately a No. 2 or 3 seed, Wright will have his team ready to play. But after not being able to shut down a team in the doldrums of a depleted Big East conference (after the 2012-13 season, the conference went from 15 teams to 10 due to realignment), it's unlikely that they will be advancing very far in the NCAA field either.
Can Seton Hall win the Big East tournament?
The step-back jumper thrusts Seton Hall into the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the first time since 2001.
Following the win, Seton Hall will now have to wait to find out who it will play in the semifinals. Providence and St. John's, two programs with NCAA tournament hopes of their own, are playing each other for the right to take on the suddenly surging Seton Hall.
With the huge win in hand and the swagger that Gibbs referred to during his press conference, the Pirates might have a chance to continue shocking the country all the way into the NCAA tournament.