The Big East Tournament is now in full swing and the basketball gods are starting to unleash the close games, intriguing match-ups and more rowdy crowds.
There is no better place to have basketball on a Friday night than at Madison Square Garden and it makes it even better with four very talented teams taking the court.
After tonight, we are one step closer to honoring another Big East team with a title that they will never forget.
#1 Villanova vs #4 Providence 7:00 pm ET
The Co-Big East Players of the Year, Kris Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono, collide in the first semifinal game.
Providence is hungry to defend their Big East title and they are looking for revenge after getting blown out in both meetings with the Wildcats during the regular season.
They put on an impressive defensive display yesterday against St. John's as they limited the Johnnies in transition and set them up to fail in a half-court game. Dunn and LaDontae Henton are going to put up big numbers night after night but if the Friars can receive production from Ben Bentil (double-double Thursday) and Tyler Harris (15 points Thursday) they can have the opportunity to pull a shocker.
Villanova hit 17 three pointers and had nine players score at least a point in their blowout against Marquette in the quarterfinals. Josh Hart scored a career high 20 points and was effective on the boards as well. The Wildcats do not have a size advantage against the Friars but they are so deep, balanced and efficient that they are the clear favorites to advance to the championship game.
#2 Georgetown vs #6 Xavier 9:30 pm ET
If Xavier didn't have a slot locked up for the NCAA Tournament, they certainly handled that Thursday night as they defeated Butler in overtime during the nightcap. The Musketeers are unselfish and they can catch fire from beyond the arc as Myles Davis, Trevon Bluiett, and Dee Davis are all capable of knocking down those shots. Georgetown also normally struggles against zone defense. Xavier uses a 1-3-1 zone to change looks and that could bother the Hoyas, who don't shoot well from the outside.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 25 points in the quarterfinals against Creighton and he had to take over the game down the stretch in order for the Hoyas to capture the victory. Georgetown has a history of struggling against weaker competition in March but they know how talented this Xavier team is so there should be no slow start on Friday night.
If Josh Smith can stay out of foul trouble, that may be the key tonight as the Hoyas have to match up against Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds in the paint.