It started with 10 teams and now we are down to two. Both the Villanova Wildcats and the Seton Hall Pirates punched their tickets to the final with wins in the semis. 'Nova, who are the favorites to win the BIG EAST tournament, took advantage of foul trouble by Ben Bentil and got past Providence 76-68. Seton Hall upset second-seed Xavier 87-83. The Pirates controlled the game for much of it, and survived a late rally to advance to the final.
Here are five things to watch for during the final.
No. 1 seed at stake for Villanova
Villanova has played great throughout this whole season and throughout this entire tournament, but if they don't win in the final, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament may be out of the picture. The pressure will be on the Wildcats, as getting one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament is a huge accomplishment and will help them a lot when it comes to advancing in the bracket. Also considering how the tournament may be filled with upsets, aNo. #1 seed could come in handy for Villanova. The Wildcats have shown that they are the cream of the crop in the BIG EAST up to this point and now they can put the icing on the cake in the final.
Can Seton Hall's defense cause problems for 'Nova?
Seton Hall has one of the best defenses in the country as they only allow an average 67.3 points per game (70th in the nation). They are athletic and cause problems with their length. Everyone chips in and does their job. They had a tough task against Xavier but stepped up. The Pirates made Xavier shoot 34.6% from the field and a woeful 26.7% from the 3-point line. They will be facing a completely different team in 'Nova however, as the Wildcats are one of the most balanced teams in the country. If there is one specific thing that they need to look out in terms of the Pirates, stopping Villanova's transition 3-pointers are the biggest thing.
Can Ryan Arcidiacano shut down Isaiah Whitehead?
Isaiah Whitehead has been SHU's best player, and he is the leader for this team. Although Seton Hall can get a solid night of offense from anybody, Whitehead has been the one to step up this whole season. His consistent play has made him the biggest threat for 'Nova's defense. He will be matched up against Ryan Arcidiacono, a player that has been a model of consistency for Villanova for the past couple of years. He's the player you love to hate because he does everything right. Sort of like Aaron Craft, but Arcidiacono's bigger and has a better shot. But you get the point. This will be tough sledding for Whitehead. Let's see if he's up to the task.
Limiting three-pointers for the Pirates
'Nova is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country and they showed it against Providence. 'Nova shot 41.2% from three (7-17) and a lot of those three's were momentum killers for Providence. Arcidiacono was the most efficient as he hit two of his three attempts. They don't shoot a lot but they are timely and can knock them down.
Seton Hall held Xavier to 26.7% from three and they can certainly do that to Villanova. But if they don't, it will be a long night for the Pirates.
Can Seton Hall's youth get it done?
Seton Hall is the ultimate underdog coming into this game. They are facing the top team in Villanova and if they will be facing a monster of a team. If they are able to beat 'Nova it may be one of the biggest upsets in BET history and one of the best wins in Seton Hall history.
They are extremely young, as most of Kevin Williard's players are sophomores. This will be the biggest game of many Seton Hall players careers so far. Villanova, on the other hand, is an experienced team, having been to the NCAA tournament before with this group (aside from Jalen Brunson). They know how to win, but experience doesn't always equals success.
Seton Hall's youth showed in the closing moments against Xavier as they had trouble putting away the game, and prompting the Musketeers to almost come back and steal the game. They still have a long way to go and are a talented team. If they get a good seed and are in the right bracket, they can go deep. But they are still young and they make mistakes at the same time.