A fast-paced matchup at Madison Square Garden between the No. 7 Villanova Wildcats and Illinois Fightin' Illini is sure to provide an exciting ending. A few uncharacteristic turnovers by the Wildcats kept the Illini in it early, but then Villanova's typical defensive scheme of tightening up their D gave them a 16-11 lead at about the 13:00 mark.
Over the next ten minutes, Villanova could not make many shots and allowed Illinois to creep within 3. Then, Villanova showed their veteran patience. The Wildcats seemed to be at the free throw line on every possession as they stretched the lead to 8 with about a minute left. The half closed with Nova up 33-27.
JayVaughn Pinkston led the way for the Wildcats with 8 points at the break. Dylan Ennis and Darrun Hilliard each chipped in with 6. Daniel Ochefu pulled in 5 boards and his play against a clearly more athletic Nnanna Egwu will be crucial in the second half.