It’s time for the rubber match.
Seton Hall and Xavier split games during the regular season – with the Pirates most-recent victory bringing Xavier down to Earth after defeating Villanova – and, now, the two squads face off on Friday night with a chance to battle for a Big East title on the line.
There may be just a little bit of emotion in this one. And good basketball. Really good basketball.
While neither team is exactly on the “bubble” of the NCAA Tournament, this game is shaping up to be as exciting as one with more postseason implications. These teams want to win and this one is about pride.
Here’s everything you need to know about the semifinal tilt:
Date: Friday, March 11
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Game Preview: Let’s think back a few weeks.
Xavier has just defeated No. 1 Villanova at home, a revenge victory that made people immediately sit up and notice that this Musketeers squad might just be as good as it’s cracked up to be. Then Xavier played Seton Hall.
And things changed.
The Pirates took the wind out of Xavier’s collective sales with a 90-81 victory on February 28. It was senior day. It, more or less, locked up a spot for Seton Hall in the NCAA Tournament.
It set up what is going to be one heck of a dramatic Big East semifinal on Friday night.
Seton Hall has found a way to turn its youthfulness into its strength in the second half of the season, propelled by the strong play of sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead. The standout scored 24 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, not to mention six assists, in the Pirates’ Big East quarterfinal victory on Thursday.
But let’s not forget about Xavier either.
The Musketeers rolled into the semis with a dominate 90-72 victory over Marquette. Granted the Eagles had played a game the night before – one that didn’t end until just after midnight on Thursday morning – but if Xavier can record another performance like that, this team is going to be difficult to stop.
Trevon Bluiett led five different Musketeers in double digits.