Seton Hall was a lock to make the NCAA Men’s Tournament before playing in the Big East Tournament. After beating Vilanova and Marquette last week, the Pirates started tournament play still red hot. Seton Hall picked up where it left off against Georgetown in the first round of the Big East Tournament and downed the Hoyas by a final score of 73-57 behind a dominant performance from Myles Powell.

Powell spearheaded a first-half performance that saw Seton Hall leading 53-28 at the break with a Big East record 29 points in a single half on 10-14 shooting and 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Powell finished with 31.

“That’s what I see every day,” coach Kevin Willard said of Powell’s performance. “I’ll be honest, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of that. I think he’s played unselfishly all year, which is maybe one of the reasons, but any time he steps on a floor, I expect to see that and so do his teammates, to be honest with you. We weren’t shocked by what happened. That’s just Myles being Myles.”

On Friday night, Powell’s hot shooting continued. Powell sparked Seton Hall with 18 second-half points and the Big East player of the year Markus Howard of Marquette came up short on a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Pirates a chippy and foul-filled 81-79 victory in the Big East Tournament semifinals.

Friday night’s semifinals didn’t end until well into Saturday morning.

Officials James Breeding, Tim Clark, and Tim Clougherty doled out the fouls in a regulation game that took two hours and 50 minutes to play. They also had to deal with a second-half scuffle that resulted in Marquette players Sacar Anim and Theo John and Seton Hall player Sandro Mamukelashvili being tossed.

On Saturday it came down the who wanted it more. Unfortunately for Seton Hall, Villanova showed the resiliency of why they’re the 3- time defending Big East champs. The Pirates clawed their way back into the championship game many times over, but unfortunately, tournament hero Powell’s last effort three-pointer hit the iron and Villanova was crowned Big East champs once again.

After a loss that came down to the final seconds, Seton Hall now faces the ultimate litmus test in the form of a 68-team bracket.  They’re a team everyone’s curious about, but not ready to pass judgment on just yet.

What the Pirates do have is a battle-hardened roster playing with house money, which makes them dangerous as the NCAA Tournament brackets are unveiled on Sunday.

“I have so much confidence in this group,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “I know they’ll be back Monday ready to work. And as long as they come back, the way they did after we lost a tough one to Georgetown, or after we lost a couple in a row earlier this year, I know and I have such confidence in the team that they’re going to bound back.”