Men’s Basketball Big East Tournament Preview


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

The Wildcats will take on St. John’s in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals on Thursday night.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

The Big East Tournament is underway at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Villanova is scheduled to play its first game of the tournament Thursday evening at 7 P.M. against St. John’s. The Wildcats enter play as the tournament’s two-seed with an in-conference record of 16-4, a half-game behind the league-leading Providence Friars. 

The Wildcats’ quarterfinal matchup comes against a seven-seeded Red Storm team that routed 10-seed DePaul, 92-73, on Wednesday evening. With the first round of the tournament played between the lowest six seeded teams, Georgetown, DePaul and Xavier were all eliminated on Wednesday. 

The ‘Cats swept the Red Storm in the regular season, with a 73-62 win in the Finneran Pavilion on Jan. 29, and a 75-69 win at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 8. Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie, led the scoring at home with 17 points, but the graduate guard was held scoreless at the Garden. Sophomore forward Eric Dixon put up 15 points in the Pavilion and 16 at the Garden. Junior guard Justin Moore also contributed 16 at the Garden in February. 

If the Wildcats can advance past the Red Storm, they will face the winner of six-seed Seton Hall and three-seed UConn in the semifinals on Friday at 9 P.M. That matchup tips directly after the finish of the Villanova-St. John’s game. The ‘Cats swept Seton Hall in the regular season, with both games resulting in 73-67 victories for the Wildcats. UConn would likely provide the bigger challenge for the Wildcats, as the two teams split the season series, with the ‘Cats winning at the Wells Fargo Center and the Huskies taking the win in Hartford.

The tournament championship will take place on Saturday at 6:30 P.M. If the ‘Cats advance to the finals, they will meet either one-seed Providence, which beat Butler to advance to the Semifinals, four-seed Creighton or five-seed Marquette. The ‘Cats swept Big East regular-season title holders Providence in the regular season, split the series with Creighton, and were swept by Marquette.

Winning the Big East tournament could improve the ‘Cats seed in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats are currently projected as a three-seed in ESPN’s latest Bracketology, but adding a tournament championship to the ‘Cats resume could convince the selection committee to push the ‘Cats above the three-line into a two-seed position. Selection Sunday, where the 68-team field will be revealed, will start at 6 P.M. on Mar. 13 and will be televised on CBS.