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Controversial Flagrant 1 foul helps No. 8 seed Arkansas past No. 9 seed Seton Hall

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Turnovers and a late Flagrant 1 foul played a huge factor in the end as No. 8 seed Arkansas outlasted No. 9 seed Seton Hall, 77-71, on Friday afternoon during a first-round game in the South Region.

In a back-and-forth game in the final minutes, the Pirates committed two timely turnovers among 15 for the game as the Razorbacks capitalized with baskets off of both of them.

But the story of the game is a controversial Flagrant 1 foul called on Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez with 18 seconds left. With Seton Hall trailing by a point with under 30 seconds left, Rodriguez was attempting to quickly foul Arkansas’ Jaylen Barford to extend the game and send him to the free-throw line. Barford tripped over the foot of Rodriguez and tumbled to the floor as a foul was whistled, but the trip appeared to be incidental contact and not an intentional act by Rodriguez.

Referees went to the monitors and ruled it a Flagrant 1 on Rodriguez as Barford canned both free throws to make it a three-point Arkansas lead with 18 seconds left. After another Seton Hall foul, the Razorbacks split a pair of free throws to score three points on the trip to make it a two-possession game.

Here’s the Flagrant 1 that changed the course of the game.

The call on Rodriguez was later clarified during the NCAA Tournament studio show by NCAA National Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating J.D. Collins as he explained the reasons the officials would make the Flagrant 1 call.

While Seton Hall has plenty to complain about with regards to this controversial call, they also have themselves to blame for turnovers in untimely situations. Khadeen Carrington had back-to-back turnovers that ended up being costly for Seton Hall in the final minute and their offense also sputtered for a long period of time down the stretch.

Seton Hall had plenty of chances to put away Arkansas but they could never put it out of reach. But the Flagrant 1 call also didn’t even give the Pirates a chance to tie when they deserved at least that much of a chance. This was a one-possession game for over five minutes until that Flagrant 1 possession pushed it to a four-point Arkansas lead.

The Pirates did plenty to squander opportunities down the stretch but Arkansas also deserves credit for a strong game.

Moses Kingsley had a huge day inside for the Razorbacks (26-9) as the senior big man had 23 points and six rebounds while Barford (20 points) had a key steal on Carrington and his go-ahead bucket with under a minute left was a huge play.

Dusty Hannahs also added 14 points for Arkansas while Dustin Thomas finished with 13 points.

Seton Hall (21-12) had a lot of momentum in the second half with an 18-5 run over a four-minute span but they squandered an eight-point lead. Carrington finished with 22 points while big man Angel Delgado added another double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Madison Jones scored 11 points for the Pirates while Myles Powell and Rodriguez each added 10 points for the Pirates.

Arkansas advances to face the winner of No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 16 seed Texas Southern on Sunday in the second round.

Big East Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Big East Player of the Year: Josh Hart, Villanova

Josh Hart confirmed what was almost unanimously believed in November: he was the best player in the Big East. The senior wing averaged a conference-leading 18.7 points — shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three — to go along with his 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for first-place Villanova. One of the best two-way players in the nation also had some of his best single-game performances outside of the conference slate.

Big East Coach of the Year: Ed Cooley, Providence

Two days before Christmas, Providence closed out the non-conference slate with a loss at Boston College. The Friars followed by dropping the first two conference games. All three losses were by a dozen or more points. Yet, this team — without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil — is in possession of another 20-win season, and tied the highest finish Providence has had since the conference’s relaunch. This is a competitive race, especially when you consider what Chris Holtmann and Steve Wojciechowski has done. And that doesn’t include Jay Wright’s continued dominance. But Cooley took a young roster with all the makings of a rebuild and turned it, in all likelihood, a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

First-Team All-Big East

  • Josh Hart, Villanova
  • Andrew Chrabascz, Butler: The statistics don’t jump off the page, but the senior forward impacts the game in so many different ways for a Butler team that was projected to finish sixth, but ended as the No. 2 seed.
  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Taking the full-time ball handling duties this season, the sophomore averaged 14.8 points per game, shooting 54 percent from the field. He also registered a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: The nation’s leading rebounder (13.1 RPG) has recorded 24 double-doubles this season. He’s also improved his offense, posting 15.7 points per game.
  • Marcus Foster, Creighton: The transfer guard is second in the conference in scoring at 18.5 points per game. He’s taken on a bigger role since Watson’s season-ending injury.

Second Team All-Big East:

  • Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
  • Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
  • Kyron Cartwright, Providence
  • Kelan Martin, Butler
  • Justin Patton, Creighton

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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Villanova brought the Big East the national championship in 2016, ending critcism of the program’s shortcomings in March and providing the league with an added level of legitiamcy it yearned for since its relaunch in 2013.

So, what will the Big East do for an encore? The conference might send 70 percent of its members to the NCAA Tournament.

Like the previous three seasons, the league was dominated by Villanova, which won its fourth consecutive regular season championship. Butler finished second, and spent much of the year in the top-20. Creighton looked every part of a Final Four contender until Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL in mid-January. Xavier, which began the season ranked, has struggled since Edmond Sumner suffered the same season-ending injury. Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall have all made late pushes for at-large bids, resulting in a wild finish to the regular season. Four days in New York should be eventual, to say the least.

The Bracket

When: March 8-11

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Final: Saturday, March 11 5:30 p.m.

Favorite: Villanova

This should come as a surprise to no one. This reigning national champions enter the World’s Most Famous Arena as the top seed for the fourth straight season. Villanova has at its disposal the conference’s player of the year, another unanimous first-team selection, a national coach of the year candidate and the athleticism and versatility not many teams can brag about. Depth is a concern, with Phil Booth out for the season and Darryl Reynolds, the only true big man in the rotation, recently returning from injury. It’s also worth noting that two of three Big East losses came against the same opponent.

And if they lose?: Butler

The Bulldogs have twice defeated the Wildcats. They did so in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, handing Villanova its first loss of the season. Butler went for the sweep by knocking off the Cats on Feb. 22, the only time they lost at the Pavilion this season. In both contests, Butler made the key plays down the stretch for hard-fought victories. Butler has an improved defense from last season to compliment with its always-efficient offense. With a big like Andrew Chrabascz, the Bulldogs are more equipped to match up with Villanova. Also, Kelan Martin, since his move to a reserve role, has caught fire in the last five games of the regular season.

Kelan Martin (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Providence: The Friars have won six straight, with wins over Butler, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette. Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock may not be Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they are anchoring a hot team that could give Providence its second postseason championship in four years.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles are the only Big East team team other than the Bulldogs to defeat Villanova. They have a nice balance with a deep roster. Five players average double-digits in points, and Andrew Rowsey, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and Katin Reinhardt have been huge in the second unit.

Sleeper: Seton Hall

The Pirates played strong basketball down the stretch last season to win the Big East Tournament championship. Isaiah Whitehead is playing in a different borough now, but Seton Hall is rolling, winners of seven of nine. The defense isn’t as strong as it was during last year’s run, but Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez are capable of a repeat performance.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost six of seven to close out the season. They have two wins in the past five weeks: both against DePaul. A loss to the Blue Demons on Wednesday night could burst Xavier’s bubble.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles should be safe at this point. Sure, they earned a come-from-behind win against Villanova, but that won’t stop critics from poking holes in their resume on Sunday, especially when four wins against Xavier and Creighton came after injuries to Edmond Sumner and Mo Watson.
  • Providence: A six-game winning streak and a third-place finish should mean the Friars are safe, but most bracket projections have them as one of the last at-large four bids.

Defining moment of the season: Marquette, down 17 points, comes back to stun No. 1 Villanova, starting a run for the NCAA Tournament.

CBT Prediction: Villanova

No. 2 Villanova scores decisive road win at Seton Hall

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Villanova was ruthlessly efficient on offense and used a balanced effort as the No. 2 Wildcats ran past Seton Hall, 92-70, on Saturday afternoon for a Big East road win. The win gives the Wildcats at least a share of the Big East regular season title, which they’ve won for four consecutive seasons.

Shooting 67 percent (33-for-49) from the field and 57 percent (12-for-21) from three-point range, the Wildcats had big days from Jalen Brunson (22 points), Kris Jenkins (22 points) Josh Hart (19 points) and Mikal Bridges (15 points).

Brunson was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor while Bridges helped close the game with three late three-pointers as he was 8-for-10 from the field.

This was the type of offensive showing that makes you believe that Villanova (26-2, 13-2) should be a No. 1 seed come March and if their offense plays this well then they’re going to be nearly impossible to stop. Brunson is the type of efficient and intelligent lead guard who is happy to run clock with any kind of late lead while Hart and Jenkins aren’t afraid to take big shots late in the shot clock. When others like Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo also provide offense then Villanova has one of the most balanced groups in the nation.

With home games against Butler and Creighton and a road game at Georgetown, it won’t be easy for Villanova down the stretch in conference play but they should also feel pretty good about getting the Big East regular-season crown.

Seton Hall (16-10, 6-8) missed out on a valuable opportunity to score a win over top-five opponent in this one. The Pirates were led by Khadeen Carrington (22 points) while big man Angel Delgado (19 points, 12 rebounds) registered another double-double.

While Seton Hall would have loved a win over Villanova after picking off Creighton at home, they do get more chances to score wins over potential NCAA tournament teams. Kevin Willard’s team still hosts Xavier and ends the regular season on the road at Butler before the Big East Tournament.

Jenkins, Brunson, lead No. 1 Villanova past Seton Hall 76-46

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Kris Jenkins scored 16 points and Jalen Brunson added 13 to lead No. 1 Villanova to a 76-46 win over Seton Hall on Monday.

The Wildcats (18-1, 6-1 Big East) looked every bit like a team that could win back-to-back national championships in their first game at No. 1 in The AP Top 25 poll following a one-week hiatus.

Villanova fell from the top spot to third in the poll following a Jan. 4 loss at Butler. But wins over Marquette and Xavier vaulted the Wildcats over the Kansas Jayhawks and back into the top spot.

Led by four 3s from Jenkins, the Wildcats set a school record 47 straight wins at the Pavilion. Under coach Jay Wright, Villanova has been nearly unbeatable at home for most of the last 10 years.

Seton Hall (12-6, 2-4) was just the latest to go down in front of the 177th straight sellout crowd. Villanova’s rare blemish on its national championship season was losing to the Pirates in the Big East Tournament title game.

Seton Hall upsets unbeaten No. 16 South Carolina

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Seton Hall overcame some rough stretches of offense and closed out strong as the Pirates upset previously unbeaten No. 16 South Carolina for a 67-64 win at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

Despite only shooting 34 percent from the field, Seton Hall gutted out a win over one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Attacking the offensive glass hard for 18 rebounds, Seton Hall was able to stay in the game thanks to second-chance opportunities and a defense that kept working despite the sluggish offense. Khadeen Carrington paced the Seton Hall offense with 21 points while Desi Rodriguez added 16 points and Angel Delgado contributed a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Rodriguez made the go-ahead bucket with 11 seconds left as South Carolina sophomore P.J. Dozier missed what would have been a potential game-winning three-pointer at the other end.

South Carolina (8-1) once again excelled on the defensive end, as their ball pressure did a number on Seton Hall early. But the Gamecock big men were in foul trouble on Monday and it ended up hurting them immensely on the glass. Chris Silva (11 points) fouled out while Maik Kotsar had some foul issues of his own. And South Carolina couldn’t get much consistent offensive help for Dozier, as he finished with 20 points. The suspension of Sindarius Thornwell clearly made a difference on the South Carolina offense, but they also played pretty well without their leading scorer and had plenty of opportunities to win this game.

This win is very important for Seton Hall’s postseason aspirations since it’s a neutral-court win over a quality opponent. Up until this point, Kevin Willard’s ballclub had wins over Cal and Iowa but both of those teams aren’t nearly as strong as South Carolina. The Big East is going to have plenty of opportunities for more big wins with Villanova, Creighton and Xavier all off to good starts and if Seton Hall can earn some more quality wins, they should find themselves back in the NCAA tournament.

Seton Hall receives commitment from 2016 guard Gordon

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With point guard and Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player Isaiah Whitehead due to announce his decision regarding the NBA Draft on Thursday, Seton Hall is still awaiting news that will have a significant impact on their 2016-17 season. But the wait for Whitehead’s decision doesn’t mean that the Pirates aren’t looking to bolster other areas of their roster either.

Monday night Kevin Willard and his staff received a commitment from one of the better available guards, as 6-foot-2 guard Eron Gordon has committed to the program. Gordon, the younger brother of Eric (Indiana) and Evan (Liberty, Arizona State and Indiana), is a Rivals Top 150 prospect who joins Myles Powell in Seton Hall’s 2016 class to date. Considered by many as a scoring guard, Gordon gives Seton Hall another player to throw into the competition for minutes along with Powell and junior Khadeen Carrington (they also have Desi Rodriguez on the wing).

But just how good the perimeter rotation will be next season hinges on the decision of Whitehead. Should Isaiah return for his junior year, Seton Hall will have one of the nation’s best point guards running the show. But if he decides that it’s time to move on to the professional ranks, Seton Hall will have a major question to answer at the point.

Gordon may not be the last pickup on the recruiting trail this spring for the Pirates, as they’re also still in the running for 2016 forward Taurean Thompson, who earlier this month was reportedly down to Seton Hall, Syracuse and Michigan State.