10 teams will go head to head in a 4-day tournament to see who will land that automatic conference bid into the NCAA, March Madness Championship. Villanova is the reigning Big East and NCAA Champion, but can they pull off the first ever Big East Tournament three-peat? Or will Seton Hall and Marquette challenge their throne.
St Johns slipped down to the 7th Spot in the Big East with losses late in the season, so can DePaul pull off an upset? And don’t sleep on Xavier, Creighton and Georgetown; in college ball anything can happen.
Providence trailed 0-10 as the clock winded down early in the first quarter. The crowd’s cheers for Butler grew louder as the lead continued to swell. The Big East Conference Opener between Providence and Butler was looking like a blow out waiting to happen, but then Providence guard David Duke hit two important back to back shots which electrified the team and the crowd; It was all uphill for the Friars since then. Despite Butlers early first quarter lead, the Friars ended the first half with an 11 point lead, 38-27.
As the 2ndhalfway was underway Providence took a monstrous 25-point lead; and with 5 minutes left on the clock, Butler would not recover; Providence would defeat them. (80-57) Providence advances to the Quarterfinals against Villanova Thursday at Noon
The second game of the First Round double-header was underway; St Johns against DePaul. The Red Storm Johnnies are projected to win, but as we all know anything is possible in college ball.
Both teams came out with explosive aggression; a quick bucket for Shamorie Ponds brought the Johnnie’s offense alive, but DePaul would answer as Eli Cain led the Blue Demons with 12 points. Tied at 27 with less than 4 minutes on the clock, St. Johns would look to up their offense and tighten their defense or a DePaul upset would be sure to follow. With a flashy play under the basket by Ponds, followed by a trick shot layup by Justin Simon the Red Storm found themselves with a 5-point lead. But Eli Cain would answer with a long trey to cut the lead to 3. (36-33) St Johns would close the first half with a 4 point lead. (39-35)
As Shamorie Ponds drains a 3 on the wing, followed by a trey by LJ Figueroa, St Johns takes an 11 point lead. With 4 players in double figures, St Johns found ways to spread their offense, and keep the ball moving. As their offense grew, so did their lead. With under 5 minutes on the clock, the Red Storm led by 15 points and DePaul’s NCAA Championship dreams slipped out of their hands.
St Johns would defeat DePaul 82-74.
Shamorie Ponds would finish with 18 points and 7 assists; Justin Simon ended the game with 18 points and 6 rebounds, and Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa combined for 31 points.
They advance to the Quarterfinals where they will play Marquette on Thursday at 7pm.