The regular season has rumbled through it's final set of midweek matchups. Every team except Xavier and DePaul was involved, and now everyone heads home for a bit of rest before a conference tournament matchup defining set of Saturday games. Here's what we learned as game #17 went into the books.
Seton Hall sets the bottom four
For Xavier fans this just means that Xavier is locked into the six seed (and a bye) come Madison Square Garden time. What it means for the Pirates is that in a season that they started at 12-2 overall and were also once 5-4 in conference has since toilet bowled its way to 6-11 before a season ending trip to Georgetown. Kevin Willard and his heralded freshman have served up one of the most putrid February/March stretches on record.
St. John's is heading the exact opposite way
Who knows exactly what changed, but the Red Storm went from 3-6 in the Big East and looking dead and buried to a basic shoo-in for the NCAA tournament. Beating Marquette by 16 sent them to 10-7 in conference. Steve Lavin's team won't be an easy out either, so long as they keeping knocking down the 39.2% they've shot from deep in conference play.
Creighton is going to be a pain
It would have been very easy for the Bluejays, who were playing for essentially nothing but pride, to roll over and get crushed by Villanova on Tuesday. Instead, they led at the half and as late as 1:10 to go in the game before falling to the best team in the conference. More alarmingly than the score is the fact that they shot 10-22 from behind the arc against a defense that tends to be much stingier than Xavier's.
The top of the conference is loaded
Georgetown slid past Butler 60-54 in a game that sent both teams to 11-6 in the conference on the year. With Xavier sitting at 8-9 and in 94 of 95 brackets recorded by the Bracket Matrix, that means the Big East has six teams squarely in the field and Nova, Georgetown, Butler, and St. John's all sporting double digit wins in what Ken Pomeroy still considers the nation's second best conference. "Old Big East" honks and ESPN hangers-on are missing a great conference.
There is no dead rubber come Saturday. All five games will have an impact on the seeding for the conference tournament at MSG. We know that Xavier plays at 9:30 on Thursday night, but know against whom. It's entirely possible that Butler and Villanova could take the top two spots and leave the three teams (Georgetown, St. John's, and Providence) sitting ahead of Xavier all at 11-7. Xavier will face the third seed, at this point Butler.