Well, if you had plans to watch the Big East in the second weekend, you can cancel them. For just the second time since realignment, the conference won’t have a representative in the Sweet 16.
The Big East’s last hope was the Villanova Wildcats, and Villanova suffered an 87-61 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers Saturday night in the round of 32.
It’s hard to describe what went on in this game. The best way to put it is that Purdue did to Villanova what Villanova did to so many teams last season. They struck early and often and hit a barrage of three-pointers. Carsen Edwards had 42 points, the first 40+ point NCAA Tournament performance since Adreian Payne had 41 in Michigan State’s 2014 first round win over Delaware. Edwards also hit nine threes, the most since Bryce Alford’s nine in UCLA’s 2015 win over Southern Methodist.
While this was never expected to be a championship season for Villanova — the Final Four is on CBS, after all. The Wildcats only win when it’s on TBS. — For the Wildcats to come out completely flat in a do or die game was completely uninspiring. Eric Paschall and Phil Booth combined for 34 of Villanova’s 61 points, and only six players played more than ten minutes for the Wildcats. With Booth and Paschall now set to depart, Villanova has to figure out some semblance of a rotation heading into next year.
We can dive deeper into Villanova’s season as the long summer is now set to get underway, but seeing a Jay Wright coached team completely outclassed like this was jarring. The Wildcats will likely remain the Big East’s favorite next year, and they’re bringing in a great recruiting class, but it’s alarming nonetheless.
Purdue will advance to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year and fifth time under Matt Painter. They’ll face the winner of Tennessee and Iowa.