Providence vs Creighton
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
NEW YORK – Both Providence and Creighton hope to have done enough to merit an NCAA Tournament berth, but a long run this week at the Big East Tournament would cement the honor. The fifth-seeded Friars and fourth-seeded Bluejays begin their postseason runs when they meet in the quarterfinals of the event Thursday afternoon at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“We’re trying to give it everything we’ve got, we feel really good about our chances,” Providence guard Kyron Cartwright – who led the Big East in assists with 5.8 per game – told the Sun Chronicle. “You have to take it game by game, we have to focus on the details and lock in on everything that we need to get done.” Creighton fell out of the national rankings after an 85-81 loss at Marquette in the finale of the regular season, but it defeated league heavyweight Villanova two games before that and lost to regular-season champ Xavier by one point on Feb. 10. “Certainly Xavier and Villanova have separated themselves from the pack and have proven that they’re the two best teams in the tournament,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott told reporters. “But when you’re playing on a neutral floor, I think anything can happen.” Creighton, playing as a six seed, knocked off Providence in this same round last season en route to the tourney finals, which it lost to Villanova.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (19-12): Cartwright is one of three seniors among the top four scorers on the team, led by Rodney Bullock (14.1), and that group is looking to guide the program to a school-record fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. “It’s really who is going to make some shots and limit their mistakes, we still control our own destiny,” coach Ed Cooley told reporters. “I like the position we’re in, I like the draw. We’ve all beaten each other, the only team we haven’t beaten is Seton Hall.” Sophomore Alpha Diallo, who ranks second on the team in scoring (12.3), had 21 points and Cartwright added 20 along with seven assists in an 85-71 win over the Bluejays at home Jan. 20 to split the season series.
ABOUT CREIGHTON (21-10): Senior Marcus Foster earned All-Big East first team honors for the second straight time after finishing fourth in the league in scoring (20.3) and fifth in 3-point percentage (42.6). Fellow guard Khyri Thomas is second on the team in scoring (15.5) and picked up Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row while also earning a second team placement overall. The junior scored a game-high 19 points while collecting six rebounds and three steals in the quarterfinal win over Providence last season.
1. The winner advances to Friday’s semifinals against either No. 1 seed Xavier or the winner of the first-round matchup between Georgetown and St. John’s.
2. Foster averaged 25.7 points, six rebounds and two steals over the final three games of the regular season.
3. Providence won the 2014 Big East Tournament with a 65-58 win over Creighton in the final.