The electricity of the Garden was unmatched. In a semifinal game between the Friars of Providence and the Wildcats of Villanova, the stakes couldn't be higher. Well, I mean, they could be if there was money or an unimaginable blissful experience of complete ecstacy on the line.
Ryan Arcidiacono is one of those players that one must absolutely love to hate. He does things that drive you crazy; like dive into the crowd after chasing down a loose ball or hitting a cold blooded three pointer to increase the lead, or dropping a dime into the paint that inevitably leads to an and-one. He has the most punchable face in the game, but he wraps your hatred in a sweet, delicious bacon that would make your mother sortof proud. He makes his team so much better when he's on the court because he wills the team to do incredible things. Daniel Ochefu clearly was not 100%, yet Archie was able to find him a handful of times to capitalize on the Bentil-less Friars.
The BIG EAST player of the year was ineffective for a majority of the game. He managed to create a litany of open looks for himself, but was unable to put down consecutive shots to get himself going. Kris Dunn is what the NBA 2k series would consider a 'Microwave' player - where it doesn't take much to get him going, but when he finds his stride he's unstoppable. I never really understood the whole 'Microwave' terminology - wouldn't 'steel beam melting jet fuel' be a better term for something that gets hot and stays hot? To fully explain Dunn's effectiveness - he played nearly the entire game, roughly 40 minutes all together, but finished with just 9 points.
So, naturally, without Dunn the Friars would have to rely on the talents of Ben Bentil. Unfortunately, Bentil collected his third foul late in the first half and was unable to get things going. This was a huge problem because once Cooley put the sophomore forward/center back in, he was immediately targeted by Jay Wright. Bentil fouled out of the game with 9:40 left in the second half, finishing with a measly three points and committed five turnovers.
Kris Jenkins was unstoppable for the Wildcats, amassing 21 points on 9-14 shooting. The biggest moment of Jenkin's night, however, came a bit later in the second half when Providence was still managing to hang around. With the Friars down just 5, Jenkins drove the lane, got fouled hard, and finished the play with a basket. Making the free throw, Jenkins managed to put the Wildcats up by 8, and wouldn't relinquish that lead after.
Jay Wright's squad arrives in the BIG EAST Tournament Championship for the second year in a row. With a catalyst like Brunson, a leader like Archie, a force like Ochefu, the ferocity of Hart, and the braun of Jenkins - it'd be hard to bet against them.
Providence will live to play another game, there's no doubting that. They're in the NCAA Tournament and they're poised to make a run. Villanova, however, wants to collect the most prestigious piece of hardware the BIG EAST has to offer.