It was Day 2 of the Big East tournament, which is also known as quarterfinal day, and it was an action packed day. There were four games played yesterday and each game was a story within its own. The results of the game had huge implications regarding bids for the NCAA tournament. Let’s see what we learned from the 160 minutes of basketball on Thursday.
Huge win for Xavier and their bubble hopes
The biggest winner of the night has to be the Xavier Musketeers, who notched a 62-57 win against the 2nd seed Butler Bulldogs. It was the Trevon Bluiett show for the X as the guard put the team on his back in the game. The 23 point performance was completed with a jumper from the free throw line to break the deadlock at 57 with 16 seconds left. It was a monster win for the Musketeers who are currently on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Xavier is projected ESPN’s Joe Lunardi as being one of the last four teams in. With this win combined with the losses of Providence, Marquette, and USC, they could be in the conversation for being one of the last four teams with a bye. If they are able to get another win against Creighton in the semi-final then it could be safe to say that Xavier is heading to the Big Dance.
Same couldn’t be said about Marquette or Providence, though
While Xavier’s bubble got a lot stronger, the bubbles of Marquette and Providence are wobbling at the moment. According to Lunardi, both teams are the last four teams in with a bye along with Vandy and USC. Losses against Seton Hall and Creighton respectively certainly don’t help either the Friars or the Golden Eagles when it comes to potential seeding or the possibility that they will be playing in Dayton. But they should be good to go unless complete madness takes place, which means one of the teams under them get hot and win their conference tourney.
Kelan Martin coming off the bench is still the right move
It’s been a strange season for Kelan Martin. He started the season as the main scorer and the go-to guy on offense for the Bulldogs. But that hasn’t been the case down the stretch and it has come to the point where Martin comes off the bench now for Butler. There was a thought that things could be changed come tournament time where you need your best players for most of the game but it wasn’t the case when the starting lineups were announced.
STARTERS— Big East Coast Bias (@becb_sbn) March 9, 2017
Kelan Martin remains in his bench role, because if it ain't broke... pic.twitter.com/xuZ5NI6bwH
It turned out to be the right choice as Martin scored a team high 15 points. But he suffered with foul issues including picking up his fourth late in the second half. The loss continued Butler’s bizarre streak of still being winless in Big East tournament games. Since joining the conference in 2013, the Bulldogs still haven’t won a game in MSG when it comes to Championship Week.
Villanova was top notch and played a great game
‘Nova entered the tournament as the best team in the Big East and they proved it once again with their win over St. John’s. It was a 41 point win for the defending National Champions and they played a great game which started off with a flawless first half. They went the whole first half without committing a foul and finished it off with a Kris Jenkins buzzer beater (where have we seen that before??????). From there it was a coast for ‘Nova as they continue their quest to win the Big East title along with a number one seed.
Interesting matchups await in the semi-final
Now we have four teams left in the Big East. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, and Seton Hall all have a chance to hold the trophy up on Saturday in MSG and grab an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. We’re treated to a rematch of last year’s BIG EAST championship game between Seton Hall and Villanova for the early game, a match up to die for even after the Pirates got whooped by the ‘Cats in both affairs in the regular season (76-46 & 92-70). In the nightcap we’re treated to Creighton and Xavier, two teams that lost their point guards midway through the conference slate, two teams who feature a freshman in the ‘1’ role, two teams that have faced their own version of adversity throughout the season, two teams who limped their way to the finish line yet battled their way to the semifinals. It’s going to be electric at the Garden tonight.