The 2014 Big East Tournament Quarterfinals Preview & Open Thread

If you pass George Mikan on your school's all time scoring list while getting your second Big East tournament win ever, you get the picture the next day. Congrats, Brandon Young. - Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

A full day of action from Madison Square Garden, and we've got all you need to know.

GAME 1: #1 Villanova vs #8 Seton Hall

When: 11am Central
Audio/Visual: Fox Sports 1
Season Series: Villanova won, 2-0 (83-67 and 70-53)
KenPom Says: Villanova wins 75-64

Seton Hall advanced to this game by virtue of a 51-50 win over Butler that ended about 15 hours before today's game is going to start. That's rough, almost as rough as watching last night's game. It did have a fun ending, though:


Villanova dispatched Seton Hall twice this season with two multifaceted efforts. In both games, the Wildcats had four players scoring in double digits, and even worse for the Pirates, it wasn't the same four guys in both games. Both were in single digits at halftime, and the first game actually saw Seton Hall cut into the Wildcats' advantage in the second ten minutes of the game. But as befitting what has been called the quietest 27-3 season from a major conference team, Villanova just kept chugging and just kept distancing themselves from Seton Hall for big wins by the time the game was over.

MY PICK: I'm going with Villanova, both because of the fast turnaround for Seton Hall and because I believe that Jay Wright has his guys laser focused on getting a third crack at Creighton.

GAME 2: #4 Providence vs #5 St. John's

When: 1:30pm-ish, depending on when VU-SHU ends
Audio/Visual: Fox Sports 1
Season Series: Split 1-1 (PC won in NYC, 84-84 in 2 OTs, SJU won in Providence, 86-76)
KenPom Says: Providence, 69-67

Before we go any further, I want to address that KenPom prediction. For whatever reason, it's listing the game as an away game for St. John's. Obviously, the game is being played at Madison Square Garden, where St. John's plays a number of their home games every year. I don't think it should be a straight home game for them, due to the nature of the ticket dispersal, but there is something slightly goofy going on in the KenPom algorithm there. For what it's worth, St. John's had a 65.2% chance of winning at tip off of the previous game between these two teams that was in NYC, but that one was also in Carnesecca Arena.

The first game between these two teams was the fifth of five straight losses to open the conference schedule for the Red Storm. Since then, they've gone 10-3, so you could make an argument that going to double overtime with Providence did them a world of good. Of course, that was just the fourth of six overtime games and second of four double overtime games for the Friars this season, so it was almost just business as usual for Ed Cooley's crew.

The first game was decided in double overtime when Bryce Cotton got a tie up on Max Hooper with 21 seconds left and the possession arrow pointing in Providence's favor, followed by Cotton banking in a shot with less than 10 seconds to play. I say less than 10 seconds, because if you watch this video, you'll see the clock stop at 9.8 seconds before the ball even gets to the rim. Very sneaky, SJU clock operator.

The second game was a blasting by the Red Storm, as they took a 16 point halftime lead and hung on for the 10 point victory. Four different St. John's players had 10 or more points in that game, with both D`Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson both going for more than 20. That game came in the midst of the six game winning streak that turned the Johnnies' season around and put them in a position where this game might be an NCAA tournament play-in game.

MY PICK: Bryce Cotton plays the whole game. I mean, if nothing else, we know that's happening, right? I'll take Providence to win, and yes, I'll say that this one goes to overtime, because that's just what Providence does.

GAME 3: #2 Creighton vs #10 DePaul

When: 6pm Central
Audio/Visual: Fox Sports 1
Season Series: Creighton won 2-0 (81-62 and 78-66)
KenPom Says: Creighton wins, 86-69

Yes, it's NOT Georgetown that gets first crack at the Bluejays. Georgetown fell flat on their face last night, even though DePaul tried REALLY HARD to pick them back up.


DePaul took the lead with just over six minutes to play and never gave it up, not even to a tie. Here, let's share some things from the official DePaul notes:

  • DePaul advances in the Big East tournament for the SECOND time.
  • DePaul is 2-6 all time in the Big East. (Editor's Note: This is their NINTH season)
  • The win snapped a five game losing streak in the Big East tournament.

The Blue Demons WERE 1-5 in the Big East tournament coming in, which means their ONLY previous win in the Big East tournament was when they stunned Cincinnati on the first day of the tournament after going 0-18 in the regular season. Wrap your brain around THAT.

With that said, I was surprised to find out that the two games against Creighton this year were so close. A 19 point loss at home and a 12 point loss on the road to the best offensive team in the country isn't really that shabby when you're ranked below 200 in KenPom.com's Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. It is worth noting that the 19 point loss was with Cleveland Melvin, while the 12 point loss was without him. Take that for what you will.

MY PICK: You know, hooray for the Blue Demons for pulling off the win last night. Good for them. It means nothing. They are going to get obliterated by Creighton. Did the Jays lose in their trip to MSG to face St. John's? Sure. All that means is that Papa McDermott is going to have his bouncing baby boy and his teammates laser focused to leave New York with a Big East championship.

GAME 4: #3 Xavier vs #6 Marquette

When: 8:30pm-ish, depending on when CU-DPU ends
Audio/Visual: Fox Sports 1
Season Series: Split 1-1 (Xavier won at home, 86-79 and Marquette won at home, 81-72)
KenPom Says: Xavier wins, 71-69

Let's cut to the chase on this one, because you're all very smart people that have been paying attention. This game is going to come down to two different factors.

1) Jake Thomas and 2) Matt Stainbrook.

Jake Thomas is shooting 11-21 from behind the three point arc against the Musketeers this season. I know how ridiculous this sounds, particularly given Thomas' history against top 100 teams. But there's something about those shorts with the long X down the side that turns Jake into a 52.3% shooter. Now, item #1 leads directly into item #2. Matt Stainbrook will miss this game with a knee injury. The 6'10" junior has racked up eight fouls in two games against Marquette this season, including fouling out in 27 minutes in the game in Milwaukee. The reason for the connective tissue here is that Jake Thomas shooting like a crazy man behind the arc spreads the defense just one step further, which means Stainbrook was on his own guarding Davante Gardner, who averaged 17.5 points and 3.5 rebounds against Xavier this season. Stainbrook already couldn't guard Gardner with any kind of regularity, and now he's not even going to play. That job will pass to some combination of Isaiah Philmore, James Farr, and Jalen Reynolds.

If Thomas can hit shots like he's shown he can against the Musketeers and give Gardner space to work against guys who don't have the complete size (none of those three weigh more than 240 lbs) to guard him, well.....

MY PICK: I'll take the Golden Eagles and I'll take that 71-69 margin. It's not going to be fun, because nothing this season has been fun for Marquette.

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