For the first time since 2003, Villanova was one-and-done in the Big East tournament. Instead of using the tournament as a way to start a turnaround, the Wildcats suffered their fifth loss in the last seven games. Let’s look at the latest of those defeats:
- Marquette was unbelievably hot from beyond the arc. It hit all six of its attempts in the second half. More than anyone else it was Darius Johnson-Odom who hurt the Wildcats. He was 5-for-7 from deep and finished with 24 points.
- One of the reasons the Golden Eagles were able to shoot so well from deep was their patience on offense. They routinely wound the shot clock down and waited for an open three. Villanova was often too slow to rotate, and Marquette was rewarded for its patience.
- The dagger was a Lazar Hayward 3-point shot that broke a 70-70 tie with 1:51 remaining. The Wildcats never managed to tie the game again.
- The win for Marquette was sweet revenge after losing four straight to Villanova. The last four meetings between the teams have been decided by a combined nine points.
- Scottie Reynolds played possibly his worst game of the Big East season. He hit just four of ten shots and finished with 10 points. He now stands 49 points behind Kerry Kittles for the the most points in Villanova history. The Wildcats would likely have to advance to the Sweet 16 for him to break the mark.
- Villanova got off to a very slow start, and one of the reasons why was its 10 first half turnovers. Effects of the double-bye or just the standard for Villanova now?
- Corey Stokes was clearly the Wildcats best player, scoring 22 points off the bench. He hit eight of nine shots, including six of seven from long range.
- Maalik Wayns had one of his better games in recent memory, scoring eight points off the bench.
- One Wildcat who had a particularly poor performance was Reggie Redding. He shot 1-for-9 from the field and finished with just two points. He also took a very questionable shot with Villanova down 73-70 with 1:20 remaining when he forced a layup in traffic. The Wildcats never had the ball down one score again. Despite the performance, Redding led the team with 38 minutes.
- Taylor King, who’s status was questionable until Tuesday, played two minutes, committed a reckless foul and was then benched for the rest of the game. Isaiah Armwood didn’t play at all.
- The Wildcats only committed 17 fouls, held the rebounding advantage and shot a higher-percentage than Marquette but still lost.
- After the game Reynolds made a very interesting comment by saying that he felt the Wildcats were better now than they were when they were ranked No. 2 in the country. Whether its delusion or trying to remain confident, the Wildcats do not sound like a team that is free-falling the last month.
– David Cassilo
Another Red Storm upset looked like it was a possibility, but in the end Marquette prevailed 57-55, and will now face Villanova in the Big East quarterfinals for the second straight season.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, St. John’s battled all the way back and held a 53-52 lead with 2:22 to play. Two possessions later, senior guard David Cubillan hit a three-point shot to put Marquette up for good. A half-court shot at the buzzer by St. John’s for the win was off target.
Now it’s a rematch against Villanova for the Golden Eagles. A year ago, Marquette rallied all the way back from a 16-point halftime deficit to take a one-point lead late in the game. However, its upset bid fell short as Villanova’s Dwayne Anderson hit a layup at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 76-75.
The rivalry between the two teams grew as Villanova escaped Milwaukee with a 74-72 win on Jan. 2 when Scottie Reynolds sank the go-ahead basket with 19 seconds remaining.
A week later at Villanova, the Wildcats almost blew a 22-point lead, but managed to hold on 78-76.
Marquette will look to snap a four-game losing streak against Villanova at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Big East quarterfinals.
Taylor King’s absence from Saturday’s game was mysteriously described as a “teaching point” by Jay Wright. Yesterday came the news that this “teaching point” might cost King a chance to play in the Big East tournament.
Rumors around campus are flying and theories that have been given have ranged from behavioral to academic. Nothing is certain other than that Villanova has done an excellent job at being tight-lipped.
The latest rumor is that his NCAA tournament may be in jeopardy, but at this point, that is just a rumor.
Expect to hear soon because if we know anything about Wright, it is that he is a master at eliminating distractions from his team.
The Red Storm jumped all over a lackluster UConn team and cruised to an easy 73-51 victory in front of the home Madison Square Garden crowd. Junior forward Sean Evans tied a career-high with 19 points and chipped in nine rebounds as the Red Storm advanced to the second round of the Big East tournament, where it will face Marquette.
It is the second straight season the Red Storm has pulled off a first-round upset as a No. 13 seed. A year ago it knocked off Georgetown 64-59.
Just like last year, St. John’s will meet Marquette in the second-round. Last season the Golden Eagles had no problem with the Red Storm, jumping out to a 38-10 halftime lead before winning 74-55.
This year the two teams are a bit closer in talent. In their only meeting this season on Feb. 24, Marquette defeated St. John’s 63-61 in overtime on a game-winner from junior forward Jimmy Butler.
Villanova awaits the winner of Thursday’s game and is 3-0 this season against the two teams. It had two two-point victories against Marquette and an 81-71 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.
– David Cassilo
Speaking to the media today, Jay Wright said that Taylor King might miss the Big East tournament because of an undisclosed personal issue.
King was benched in Saturday’s loss to West Virginia because of a “teaching point.”
Wright, who was vague on what exactly was the reason behind this, said that he will decide soon whether King will play or not.
Today is the calm before the storm as Tuesday the Big East tournament will begin. Villanova won’t know who it is playing until about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, so here is a look at its three potential opponents:
(5) Marquette (20-10, 11-7): The most likely opponent is the Golden Eagles. It would be the latest contest in what has become a budding rivalry between the two schools. The Wildcats have gotten the best of the games recently. They defeated Marquette 76-75 on a Dwayne Anderson game-winner in the quarterfinals of last year’s Big East tournament. This season they have handed them two two-point defeats.
While Marquette has defied expectations after losing its core from a season ago, the Golden Eagles are still tough to figure out. Four of their last fives games have went to overtime, including contests against Cincinnati and St. John’s. While Marquette has defeated Georgetown and Louisville, it has also lost to DePaul.
Led by senior forward Lazar Hayward, the Golden Eagles will be gunning for revenge if they meet Villanova in the quarterfinals again this season.
(12) Connecticut (17-14, 7-11): Perhaps the most difficult team to figure out this season is UConn. It has defeated Villanova, West Virginia and Texas, but also lost to USF, Cincinnati twice, Providence and Michigan. The result of the Huskies erratic play means that they will probably need at least two wins to get an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
Villanova saw first hand how talented the Huskies can be, especially guards Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker and forward Stanley Robinson. However, outside those three players, there isn’t much offense on their roster. Although UConn plays strong defense (a key to their win against Villanova), it often has trouble scoring enough to win games.
The overall talent on this roster will make the Huskies a sleeper pick to reach the quarterfinals.
(13) St. John’s (16-14, 6-12): It has been another rough year for the Red Storm, and perhaps the only thing working in its favor is playing at Madison Square Garden. A season ago that helped pulled off a first-round upset against Georgetown before falling to Marquette.
To do that again St. John’s will need more production from players other than D.J. Kennedy and Dwight Hardy, its only players averaging on double-figures.
The Red Storm fell by 16 in its only meeting against UConn this season and needed three overtimes to defeat DePaul in its last game, suggesting that a lot will need to go the Red Storm’s way for a miracle run through the Big East tournament.
The regular season came to a close today in the Big East with seven Saturday games. Now the field is set, and it is time to get ready for the Big East tournament, which starts on Tuesday.
- 12 PM Tuesday: 9. South Florida vs. 16. DePaul
- 12 PM Wednesday: 8. Georgetown vs USF/DPU
- 12 PM Thursday: 1. Syracuse vs GU/USF/DPU
- 2 PM Tuesday: 12. UConn vs. 13. St. John’s
- 2 PM Wednesday: 5. Marquette vs. UCONN/STJ
- 2 PM Thursday: 4. Villanova vs. MARQ/UCONN/STJ
- 7 PM Tuesday: 10. Seton Hall vs. 15. Providence
- 7 PM Wednesday: 7. Notre Dame vs. SHU/PROV
- 7 PM Thursday: 2. Pittsburgh vs. ND/SHU/PROV
- 9 PM Tuesday: 11. Cincinnati vs. 14. Rutgers
- 9 PM Wednesday: 6. Louisville vs. CINN/RU
- 9 PM Thursday: 3. West Virginia vs. LOU/CINN/RU
If all goes according to plan, the potential semifinal matchups are:
Syracuse vs. Villanova
Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
We’ll break down what the seeding means for Villanova in the coming days.
– David Cassilo