In Big East play Wednesday night, Xavier edged Seton Hall 70-69 at Prudential Center, St. John’s took a 78-59 road loss to Providence and Villanova lost two in a row and three of four by losing to Georgetown 85-73.
Seton Hall fans, St. John’s fans and Villanova fans were not happy with the result. Villanova fans are already in panic mode, and Seton Hall fans and St. John’s fans wondered if their respective teams overlook their opponent on Wednesday night for Saturday night’s Big East showdown between their teams at Madison Square Garden.
There should be perspective in times like this. There are no easy nights for any Big East team. Anyone can beat anyone in conference play since Big East teams always ratchet up the energy, not to mention they are familiar with one another’s strength and weakness.
Look, no one is going to confuse today’s Big East to their salad days. It doesn’t mean the conference has become a run-of-the-mill, either.Teams are going to play well when it comes to conference play. After Marquette, Villanova and St. John’s as the top three teams in the standings, the rest of the Big East teams are fighting for positioning in the standings.
The Xavier Musketeers had so much to play for against Seton Hall. They are on the bubble at 13-13 (5-8 in Big East play) prior to their Wednesday night game. They need to go on a run from now to the Big East Tournament for them to play in the NCAA tournament. They played like they needed this game while Seton Hall approached this game as if it was just a game in December with no ramifications.
It’s no wonder why the better team and the most deserving team won despite Seton Hall’s efforts to win the game with 14.9 seconds left in the game trailing by one.
Seton Hall had no answer for Xavier’s big men. Xavier scored their first 16 points in the paint. In the end, Tyrique Jones scored 18 points, and Naji Marshall scored 28 points.
This game should remind Seton Hall that no Big East games should be taken for granted. They will know now since they have to play St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova in their final four regular season games.
Seton Hall should win at least two games in this stretch, but there’s no guarantee that it could happen. It wouldn’t be surprising if they go 0-4 down the stretch heading to the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden next month.
It has been a stress-free season for the Hall, but now their fans are going to find out what this team is made of. This loss shouldn’t be a big deal. Losses happen in a long season.They can’t let it snowball, so Saturday becomes a big game for them along with St. John’s.
The stakes get higher for both Seton Hall and St. John’s on Saturday. It’s not only just a local rivalry for bragging rights. It’s not only just about Seton Hall proving to St. John’s that they earned their win against them in the first meeting despite an awful call by the refs that had the Hall had extra possession of the ball because they ruled L.J. Figueroa out of bounds for his pass to Mustapha Heron, even though that was not the case. That extra possession set the stage for Shavar Reynolds to hit the game-winning three against the Johnnies. It’s not just about impressing recruits.
It’s about making sure that they are not in the bubble and that they are not in a position to make an impression of the committee. It’s about being a sure thing to make the tournament. Right now, Seton Hall and St. John’s should be in, but a loss can change the whole picture, particularly Seton Hall’s.
That’s life in the Big East. It’s a week-by-week proposition. One week a team is in good shape, and another week that same team is fighting for its tournament berth.
Each win and loss magnifies even more from now on.
March Madness does not start until March, but it might as well be March Madness for Big East teams right now when it comes to either seeding or finding their way there.
Yes, there are never easy nights in the Big East.
It’s what makes this conference still ticking despite many teams moving to greener pastures over the years.