Ryan Arcidiacono potentially saved Villanova's No. 1 seed Tuesday night heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats escaped against Creighton, 76-72, as the point guard drove to the cup for the game-winning layup. St. John's also took care of business, throttling Marquette en route to their tenth conference win of the season Wednesday. The Red Storm remain in the hunt for a spot in March Madness, and a road victory against the conference's elite would cement their status as a Tournament lock. The regular season finale at the Wells Fargo Center should be an enticing Big East matchup with NCAA Tournament aspirations on the line for both teams.
1. Frontcourt Battle
St. John's is one of the few teams in the nation that utilizes a four guard lineup. With Sir'Dominic Pointer at 6'6" manning the four for the Red Storm, the senior has produced 13.9 points per game and a team leading 7.7 boards per game. Sophomore rim protector Chris Obekpa is second in the conference in blocks at 3.2 per game, providing the length desperately needed down low.
The Wildcats counter with the rugged JayVaughn Pinkston and big man Daniel Ochefu. Pinkston, a senior, had a volatile start to his career after being kicked off the team due to off-the-court reasons. He emerged as a vocal leader as an upperclassmen and is a crafty offensive talent down low. Ochefu brings an array of post moves in the paint, and will match up with Obekpa. He leads the team in shooting at 64% from the field.
2. POY Candidates on Display
Shooting guards Darrun Hilliard and D'Angelo Harrison both are threats on the perimeter and to take home the BIG EAST Player of the Year award. Hilliard leads a balanced 'Nova team in scoring at 14.2 points per game teaming with PG Ryan Arcidiacono in the backcourt. A lethal perimeter defender, Hilliard uses his lanky 6'6" frame to stifle guards and averages a team high 1.8 steals per game.
Harrison is a premier offensive weapon for St. John's despite being slightly undersized at 6'4". The senior has been known as a volume shooter throughout his career, but is nailing a career-high 42.2% of his looks from the field. He dropped 25 points in the first contest against 'Nova and has microwave ability from behind the arc for the Red Storm. Harrison against Hilliard is a matchup fans should take notice of Saturday.
3. 'Nova Overplaying St. John's in Light of Respectability
Villanova, arguably, is the least likely No. 1 seed in the field. In a recent interview with SB Nation, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said that if the Wildcats lose any game before the NCAA Tournament, they are likely to drop a seed. Coach Jay Wright can silence critics with a convincing victory over the Red Storm while sweeping through the Big East Tournament. However, Villanova fell to the No. 8 seed Seton Hall Pirates after securing a first round bye in the Big East Tournament last year. If the Wildcats overlook the Red Storm, the team on the bubble has the talent to orchestrate a monumental upset.