It might be a new Big East, but it's the same old unpredictable Big East tournament. Seton Hall came in as the eighth seed, but proved to be a tough out all season, playing eight one-point games, including Wednesday night's opening-round win against Butler.
Top-seeded Villanova, the No. 3 team in the country, found out the hard way. Seton Hall point guard Sterling Gibbs was right at home when he got the ball trailing by one with 3.7 seconds left. The play broke down, but Gibbs stepped back and knocked down the buzzer-beater for a shocking 64-63 upset at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The loss likely cost the Wildcats (28-4) a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and might even have knocked them down a couple of pegs on the bracket. But coach Jay Wright said: "This was not about No. 1 seeds or No. 2 seeds. We wanted to come to Madison Square Garden and win the Big East tournament.
"Winning the Big East tournament would mean much more than a No. 1 seed. This is a great tournament. We're most disappointed about that."
Seton Hall (17-16) improved to 4-5 in one-point games and advanced to a semifinal tonight against Providence.
"It was big-time," said Gibbs, a sophomore whose brother Ashton starred at Pitt. "We beat the No. 3 team in the country. We're real confident."
Providence (21-11), which had lost its previous five games in the Big East tournament, will make its first semifinal appearance since 1997. Josh Fortune scored 24 points to lead the way to a 79-74 victory against St. John's (20-12) in a battle of teams on the NCAA tournament bubble.
In the night session, Doug McDermott put on a dazzling display in his Big East tournament debut, scoring a record 27 of his 35 points in the first half for No. 14 Creighton (25-6) in an 84-62 win against DePaul (12-21). The Bluejays advance to play Xavier (21-11), which was led by 19 points from Justin Martin in a 68-65 win against Marquette (17-14).
■ Big 12 Conference: Jonathan Holmes scored 20 points, Javan Felix added 16 and third-seeded Texas (23-9) rolled past cold-shooting No. 6 seed West Virginia (17-15), 66-49, to reach the semifinals in Kansas City, Mo. The Mountaineers shot just 30 percent from the field as any slim NCAA tournament hopes were likely dashed. ... The Longhorns advanced to play Baylor (23-10), which held on after blowing most of a 21-point lead for a 78-73 win against No. 17 Oklahoma (23-9). ... Melvin Ejim had 24 points and 10 rebounds and No. 16 Iowa State (24-7) held on to beat Kansas State (20-12), 91-85. ... Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points to help No. 10 Kansas (24-8) pull away in the final seconds of overtime for a 77-70 victory against Oklahoma State (21-12) as the top-seeded Jayhawks advanced to play Iowa State.
■ American Athletic Conference: Jherrod Stiggers scored 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and Houston (17-15) earned a 68-64 upset of No. 25 SMU (23-9) in the quarterfinals in Memphis, Tenn. ... Chris Jones scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half, and fifth-ranked Louisville (27-5) routed Rutgers (12-21), 92-31, advancing to face Houston. ... Sean Kilpatrick scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds as No. 13 Cincinnati (27-5) escaped with a 61-58 win against Central Florida (13-18). ... Niels Giffey scored 24 points as No. 21 Connecticut (24-7) jumped out to a big early lead and moved on to face Cincinnati with a 72-53 rout of host No. 21 Memphis (23-8).
■ Southeastern Conference: Jabari Brown scored 26 points, Earnest Ross added 24 and Missouri (22-10) barely kept alive its hopes of an NCAA bid with a 91-83 double-overtime win against Texas A&M (17-15) in the second round in Atlanta. ... South Carolina (14-19) won its second game in a row, upsetting Arkansas, 71-69, behind 17 points from Sindarius Thornwell and likely knocking the Razorbacks (21-11) out of NCAA tournament contention. ... Shavon Coleman scored 15 points on five 3-pointers and LSU (19-12) preserved its slim NCAA hopes with a 68-56 win against Alabama (13-19). ... Marshall Henderson had 21 points on seven 3-pointers to help Mississippi (19-13) to a 78-66 win against Mississippi State (14-19).
■ Pac-12 Conference: Nick Johnson scored 14 points, T.J. McConnell added 13 and No. 4 Arizona (29-3) overwhelmed Utah (21-11) defensively in a 71-39 rout in Las Vegas to match the most lopsided game in Pac-12 tournament history. ... Askia Booker scored 17 points and Colorado (23-10) advanced to meet Arizona with a 59-56 win against California (19-13). ... Jordan Adams scored 15 points and UCLA (24-8) ran away from Oregon (23-9) with a big second-half run for an 82-63 rout.
■ Atlantic 10 Conference: Vee Sanford tied a career high with 23 points off the bench on a perfect 9-for-9 shooting day as Dayton (23-9) beat Fordham (10-21), 87-74, in the first round in another boost to the Flyers' NCAA tournament hopes. The Flyers (23-9) face fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's today in the quarterfinals in New York. ... Youssou Ndoye had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. Bonaventure (17-14) past La Salle (15-16), 82-72. St. Bonaventure now faces top-seeded Saint Louis. ... Brooklyn native Chaz Williams made his only 3-pointer of the game with 1:49 left, shrugging off a poor homecoming performance as Massachusetts (24-7) rallied to beat Rhode Island (14-18), 65-61, and move on to face No. 3 seed George Washington.
■ NAIA Division II National Championship: Former Bishop Canevin standout Carly Forse had 18 points and eight rebounds, but a cold shooting night doomed Point Park (29-5) in an 83-52 first-round loss against Morningside (28-6) in Sioux City, Iowa. The Pioneers missed all 10 3-point attempts, were 16 of 29 from the free-throw line.