Top-seeded Villanova is no longer around, but fans could not have asked for much more out of the 2021 Big East tournament's semifinals going into Friday's action.
There were two basketball powerhouses in Georgetown and Connecticut, as well as the No. 17 team in the country in Creighton. Throw in a dangerous Seton Hall squad that survived an overtime test against St. John's on Thursday, and the table was set for a thrilling double-header.
Here is a look at the results from Friday's semifinals action.
Semifinals Results/Schedule (Friday, March 12)
No. 8 Georgetown def. No. 5 Seton Hall, 66-58
No. 2 Creighton def. No. 3 Connecticut, 59-56
Full bracket and schedule available at NCAA.com.
Final Schedule (Saturday, March 13)
No. 8 Georgetown vs. No. 2 Creighton; 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox
Georgetown 66, Seton Hall 58
Georgetown is one win away from reaching the NCAA men's tournament for the first time in head coach Patrick Ewing's tenure.
The Hoyas, who already eliminated top-seeded Villanova and Marquette, clinched a spot in the championship game with a 66-58 victory over Seton Hall in the first game of Friday's double-header.
It appeared as if Georgetown was going to cruise to victory when it jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half, but Seton Hall trimmed the lead to two by intermission with Jared Rhoden leading the way. Rhoden helped the Pirates keep up with Jamorko Pickett, who hit multiple threes in the early going and spearheaded the Hoyas' offensive effort.
That set the stage for a back-and-forth second half even though Sandro Mamukelashvili was struggling with his shot as Seton Hall's typical go-to option. Fortunately for the Pirates, Rhoden continued to put pressure on Georgetown's interior defense until Mamukelashvili tied the game with less than three minutes remaining by finishing through contact.
However, Chudier Bile answered with an and-1 to put Georgetown ahead for good. The Hoyas dialed up the defensive intensity in the final two minutes to protect that narrow lead, and Dante Harris put the victory away with three straight free throws when he was fouled beyond the arc.
Pickett finished with 19 points and six rebounds for Georgetown, while Rhoden poured in 22 points for Seton Hall.
Creighton 59, Connecticut 56
It will be Creighton against Georgetown for the Big East title.
The Bluejays clinched their spot in the championship game with a 59-56 victory over Connecticut in Friday's second contest. Creighton swept the regular-season matchups, but it was clear from the start the Huskies were ready to put up a fight this time around.
They jumped out to a 13-2 lead even though Jeff Goodman of Stadium reported prior to the game that star player James Bouknight may be on a minutes restriction because he had full body cramps Thursday. He started, though, and impacted the game by battling for boards even when his shot wasn't falling.
Still, Creighton wasted little time answering and seized a four-point halftime lead with a strong effort on the defensive side.
Neither team established much momentum in the second half as they went back and forth, but UConn went up five with two Bouknight free throws with less than six minutes remaining. Rather than folding, the Bluejays responded with a 9-0 run with Marcus Zegarowski leading the way.
Even though the Huskies' last field goal was with more than six minutes left, they were still within one with 30 seconds remaining following two more Bouknight free throws. Cold-blooded free throws from Mitch Ballock and multiple missed threes on the final possession sealed their fate, as Creighton clinched its spot in the championship game.