Big East Notebook: Recapping Thursday’s Quarterfinals

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 9th, 2018

Two days of Big East Tournament action are already in the books with two more days of marquee match-ups still come. The most likely outcome will ultimately be a third showdown between Villanova and Xavier, with championship hardware as well as potential #1 seed placements on the line. Here are several key takeaways from Thursday’s quarterfinals from Madison Square Garden.

Just Another Night in the Big East Tournament (USA Today Images)

  • St. John’s spoiler attempt fell short. It’s always a lot to ask from a team to win four games in four days, but Chris Mullin‘s group assumed the role of Cinderella in this tournament after a late season push coupled with a healthy home crowd. Nonetheless, a 12:00 pm ET tip time just 15 hours after knocking off Georgetown did the Red Storm no favors, particularly with only six, maybe seven, true rotation players on the roster. With three seasons at the helm now characterized by a failure to eclipse even a .500 record, questions about Mullin’s tenure will continue to loom — particularly since this was the year many observers expected St. John’s to turn the corner.
  • Providence locks up an NCAA Tournament bid. It wasn’t a must-win game for the Friars, per se, but their win over Creighton in overtime last night tips the scale and sets them up for a great opportunity to improve their seeding. Notably, Ed Cooley went small against the Bluejays, opting to slot 6’8″ Rodney Bullock into the center position to more effectively space the floor with his shooting and slashing abilities. The likes of Alpha Diallo (19 points) and Kyron Cartwright (13 points) were then able to attack the basket and draw fouls or generate offensive rebounding opportunities. Sixteen Providence offensive rebounds helped offset a 5-of-22 three-point shooting performance and kept Creighton out of transition.

  • Villanova’s offense appears to be back on track. Some cold shooting nights in February and a corresponding string of losses led some pundits to question whether Villanova was consistent enough to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. And while every offensive statistic against Marquette needs to be taken with a grain of salt, a 15-of-29 three-point shooting performance accompanied by 53 second half points makes this team near unstoppable. Every Villanova positional player can shoot, so it requires a highly cohesive zone defense or five guys who can really defend out to the perimeter in order to slow the Wildcats down.
  • Marquette’s NCAA Tournament hopes are officially up in the air. Steve Wojciechowski‘s group got the win it needed over DePaul on Wednesday night before falling short in a resume-building opportunity against Villanova last night Nonetheless, a case can be made that the Golden Eagles are still worthy of a bid and their fate will lie in the hands of several other bubble teams this weekend.
  • Kamar Baldwin has had the best individual performance thus far. After a discouragingly slow start for Butler, the 6’0″ guard took over the game against Seton Hall last night, notching a career high 32 points that included a crucial step-back jumper to give his team the lead in the final minute. His quickness posed a major problem for the Pirate guards all night, particularly in ball-screen situations with the floor spacing abilities of Kelan Martin and Sean McDermott. Butler’s win also marks its first ever victory in the Big East Tournament.
  • On the flip side, Seton Hall’s offense has reverted back to poor tendencies. Seton Hall’s half-court sets became stagnant and repetitive down the stretch, alternating between isolation jump shots and ineffective post-ups. Pirate fans have every reason to be worried, and the ankle injuries to Ish Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez continue to limit their versatility.
Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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