The Villanova Wildcats are heading to the Big East tournament championship game for the fifth straight year. There, they will look to avenge their defeat in the 2016 title showdown.
Behind a 22-point effort from Myles Powell, the Seton Hall Pirates clipped the Marquette Golden Eagles 81-79. Seton Hall last appeared in the Big East final three years ago, beating Saturday's opposition.
The Pirates' victory followed a dramatic overtime win for Villanova. Jay Wright's club overcame a seven-point deficit to Xavier during the last five minutes of the second half to force an extra period, and the Wildcats pulled out a 71-67 win.
2019 Big East Tournament Final Info
Date: Saturday, March 16
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Live stream: Fox Sports Go
New Villanova, Similar Results
After losing Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman and Mikal Bridges in 2018, the national champions have had a much different look this season.
So Villanova is a little bit younger than usual.
Three sophomores and one freshman make up the rotation behind three seniors, and three highly recruited freshmen are occasional contributors. That vast age difference meant growing pains, which the Cats have fought throughout the season.
But here they are anyway.
Phil Booth posted 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Friday's win, while Jermaine Samuels added 17 points, nine boards and four assists. Both players buried four triples to help withstand a 28-point, seven-assist performance by Xavier guard Paul Scruggs. A similar effort might need to happen because of how Myles Powell can take over a game for Seton Hall.
Villanova, which split the season series with Seton Hall, could become the first program to win three straight Big East tourneys.
Seton Hall Looking to Cap Late-Season Surge
As recently as March 2, the Pirates were reeling. They had dropped three straight games and nine of their last 14, holding a 16-12 record and safely on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble.
Suddenly, Seton Hall is thriving.
Kevin Willard's club has rattled off four straight victories, including two over Marquette and one against Villanova. During that matchup, the Pirates matched VU's terrific 13-of-27 three-point effort but owned a 17-7 edge on the offensive glass.
Winning the rebounding battle has been a key to defeating Villanova all season. When the Wildcats grab 50 percent or less of available boards, they are just 6-8. Seton Hall, meanwhile, is 14-4 when it collects at least half of all rebounds.
It's no surprise the two regular-season clashes ended up favoring the school that triumphed on the glass.
On the bright side for the Pirates, the recent hot stretch has likely guaranteed them a spot in March Madness no matter Saturday's result. And Seton Hall would be an especially confident bunch in the NCAA tourney after a second upset of the Big East powerhouse.