For the second time in three seasons, the Villanova Wildcats have won the Big East Tournament. Villanova defeated Creighton, 74-60, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden to capture its third Big East Tournament championship in school history (1995, 2015).
The Wildcats were led by Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart’s 29 points and significant contributions on both ends of the court. Hart and the Wildcat defense held Creighton under 45% from the field and forced 17 Bluejay turnovers.
“We might have played our best defensive game of the year. And I think it's because these guys know how good they [Creighton] are offensively. There was no problem getting their attention to prepare for their offensive execution and their tempo.” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said after the game.
Wright also made sure to explain just how special Hart has been for the Wildcats, saying, “It's amazing, he was tournament MVP as a sophomore, and he's better in every aspect of the game. He's such a better player, which is amazing if you think about it, that he won it and he's better in every aspect of the game. Going into this tournament, I think he put it all together. It was his leadership, it was his decision-making, his defense, his rebounding. I think he's the best, most complete player in the country. I'm sure I'm biased. I don't spend time with those other guys, but I don't see anybody that does everything like he does.”
For Creighton, Marcus Foster and Cole Huff each finished with 13 points. The Bluejays shot just 6-24 (25%) from the three-point line, an uncharacteristic day from beyond the arc.
Villanova will almost certainly be the #1 overall seed when the NCAA Tournament committee reveals the field on Sunday afternoon. An added perk this season is that the top overall seed gets to select the region in which it plays. The Wildcats could be returning to Madison Square Garden in two weeks to play in the East Regional.
However, Wright doesn’t seem to care too much about the added benefit. “We're going to be fine. Wherever they put us, whatever our seed is.” He noted.
The Bluejays, meanwhile, face uncertainly only in what seed they will be holding. Through all the adversity they faced in the middle of conference season, Creighton responded to the highest degree.
Creighton forward Cole Huff touched on that after the game, saying, “Things happen. Stuff off the court, stuff on the court. You've just got to put it in the rear view. There's nothing we can do to change the past other than grow from it and learn from it. There's still more games to be played, and that was our mindset after every loss, after every win, after everything that was going on, there was still another day.”