After the two opening round games on Wednesday we were treated with the most packed day of the Big East tournament. There were four games on the slate at Madison Square Garden. After the Providence Friars tied up the game with eight minutes left, the Villanova Wildcats hit another gear and won 73-62. The Xavier Musketeers continued their hot streak and massively helped out their chances on the bubble with a 63-61 win over the Creighton BlueJays. The final two games were blowouts as Marquette overwhelmed St. John’s 86-54 and Myles Powell dropped 31 in Seton Hall’s win 73-57 win over Georgetown. Let’s take a look at some of the best performances from the second round and a quick what to watch for for the semi-finals!
Top 3 performances from the second round
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Even tough he only scored 2 points in the second half, the first half performance from Myles Powell was good enough to make this list alone. The guard dropped 29 points in the first half against Georgetown, good enough to outscore the entire Hoyas team in those 20 minutes. He also added in 3 points and assists for the Pirates. Powell has been the leader of this team and they will look for the same production in terms of points when they face Marquette.
Markus Howard, Marquette
Like his counterpart in Powell, Markus Howard came to play at MSG. He scored 30 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists as well. He was his efficient self, going 8 of 15 from the field and 3 of 6 from three. Howard was exceptional at drawing contact and getting to the line. He went 11 of 11 from the charity stripe in Marquette’s rout. After scoring merely 6 against Seton Hall last week, Howard has responded with back to back games of 28 and 30 points respectively. It’s a great sign for Marquette that he has bounced back just in time for the semi’s of the Big East tournament.
Zach Hankins, Xavier
Speaking of efficient, Zach Hankins had himself a day for the Xavier Musketeers. He went 11 of 15 from the field (73.3%!) and added 9 rebounds as he went for 22 points. The senior was a big force in the middle for the X. This is his 8th straight game in double digit point totals and against Villanova, they are going to need his production once again.
What to Watch For in the Semi-Final
Villanova vs. Xavier
Ah, Villanova vs. Xavier, a matchup which has certainly not lived up to it’s high standards this regular season but we will be treated to a good one at MSG. As I’ve said numerous times, the Musketeers are on a roll and Travis Steele has his guys playing exceptional ball. They are on a tremendous run but have a mountain to climb in the unstoppable force as Villanova. Nova have been the cream of the crop in the Big East and no matter how much they stumbled this year, they found their way to the number one seed. Naji Marshall, who has been one of Xavier’s best players this season, only scored 11 against Creighton. If Xavier want a good shot at knocking off Villanova, they will need a big performance from the forward.
Marquette vs. Seton Hall
There is not much to overanalyze here but it will be Powell vs. Howard. The two best players in the Big East will be going head to head and it will be must watch TV. It will be Howard’s 25 PPG average against Powell’s 22.6 with both of them being efficient scorers as well. Both get to the line a decent amount of times but Howard has the big edge when it comes to three-point shooting. This will be a close game so the thing to look for will be which player will shine when the lights are at its brightest. It’s going to be rocking when Howard and Powell are trading baskets in the one and only Madison Square Garden for the right to go to the Big East Championship.