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It’s too bad Xavier won’t be in Big East Tournament final

Leslie Monteiro



So much for this classic Big East Tournament final between the Xavier Musketeers and Villanova Wildcats.

It’s not going to happen after Xavier blew a 17-point lead to the Providence Friars that would result to a 75-72 overtime loss to them Friday night in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

If there was anything good about the upset, Providence will likely earn their way to the NCAA tournament. But that won’t satisfy the Big East fans, Fox Sports and college basketball wonks that wanted to watch Xavier play Villanova for the Big East championship Saturday night. Who can argue? It’s hard to get into the championship game knowing that we got denied of watching two of the best Big East teams facing each other.


Everyone was thinking about Xavier and Villanova facing each other when the Big East Tournament started. They were preparing for Saturday night for both teams facing each other. Even the Big East powers-to-be was anticipating it. These two teams are the best teams in the conference, and they are considered to be a pick to go to the Final Four.

Instead, we have to hope this little engine that could called Providence can make it a game against Villanova. Maybe if we are lucky they beat the Wildcats. That would make all this worthwhile.

It could happen. After all, the favorites never win the conference tournament. It’s a team that no one anticipates, and Friday night was a great example of that, though this is on Xavier for losing all of their mojo. They had no business losing to Providence. They are better than them.

How could it happen?

It would have been nice to see someone challenge Villanova after owning the Big East Tournament since Syracuse, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Louisville left the conference. That would have been Xavier. Don’t be misled about Xavier going winless against the Wildcats this year. It’s hard for a team to win three straight games against a divisional rival in the season.

Xavier would have all the motivation to go out and beat Villanova. That itself would have been a great theatre.

Xavier plays defense, and they know how to pass and cut in scoring. This is a team that features dynamic players who can make crunch time shots in J.P. Macura and Trevon Bluiett. Who wouldn’t want to see them go up against Villanova’s guard duo in Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson?

If there was a team that could have slowed down Villanova’s offense, it was Xavier. That’s a team that puts pressure on Villanova’s offense.

Xavier is coming off an Elite Eight appearance in last year’s NCAA tournament, and they could have gone to the Final Four. They could actually get there this year. They are better than what they were last year. Their 28-5 record reflects that.

Losing in the Big East Tournament semifinals does not change Xavier’s standing. Conference tournament games doesn’t determine how a team fares in the tournament.

Still, it would have been nice to see what could have been with two of the best Big East teams facing each other. The Big East is not what it used to be anymore. There are not many glamour college basketball programs in that conference. Sorry, but Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence, Creighton and Butler does not make the Big East as the Big East that we used to know them. That’s why Xavier had to play.

Providence shouldn’t make any apologies for ruining the script. They earned the right to play Villanova. It’s on them to make an impression by giving Villanova a game and even winning it.

Express your disappointment towards Xavier for blowing this lead. They should have found a way to get stops. They should have found a way to make shots. To put it bluntly, they choked.

We will all be wondering about these guys at Providence tonight since we don’t know about them. That is if anyone cares enough to watch.

Providence is a good story. But people want to watch greatness in sports. It’s going to be hard for Fox Sports to sell the Big East championship game.

It’s too bad Xavier spoiled all the fun.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.