Villanova wins Big East championship, sets sights on another national title

The #2 Villanova Wildcats square off against the Providence Friars in the championship of the Big East college basketball tourney. The game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 10, 2018.

Providence was led by Alpha Diallo who poured in 22 points, while Kyron Cartwright followed up with 19 points. The double-double is Diallo's sixth of the season, which leads the Friars. Jalen Brunson continued to show why he was the Big East Player of the Year, as he scored 17 points and had three assists.

Villanova, the No. 2 team in the country and a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, needed two free throws from conference Player of the Year Jalen Brunson with 30 seconds left to send the game into overtime and an improbable buzzer-beater from Mikal Bridges in overtime to beat a team that many thought would be on dead legs in its third overtime game in as many days.

"We played arguably two No. 1 seeds going into the tournament and we played them both into overtime on back-to-back nights", said Diallo.

In overtime, Brunson and fellow Villanova superstar Mikal Bridges took over.

The top-seeded Crimson, who have won nine of their last 10, will play No. 2 seed Penn or third-seeded Yale in the championship game on Sunday.

Villanova leads the all-time series 58-38.

In the regular season against Villanova, the Friars split with the Wildcats, largely because of a clinging defense that held the Wildcats to 3-of-20 shooting on three-pointers in Providence. The 39th edition of the Big East championship game, the 36th at MSG, lived up to all that came before it. Three-point shots by Cartwright and Isaiah Jackson kept things close (49-41) at the under 12-minute timeout but by then Brunson had 25 points.

Offensive Rebounds Killed the Friars: It's ironic that Cartwright drew comparisons to Bryce Cotton after the Xavier win.

The senior point guard pump faked three times at the top of the key and then splashed a three-pointer to get the Friars within five.

Nate Watson pulls Providence within two after a three-point play. Saturday will mark the fourth year in a row that head coach Jay Wright and his team will play in the final game.

The Friars would not score the rest of the way as Villanova would go on to win 76-66.

In fact, the 3-pointer turned the tide as the Friars drained 5-of-6 over the first 12 minutes of the period while VU was just 1-of-5.

Brunson proceeded to miss the front-end of a one-and-one, giving the Friars a chance to tie the game. He sank the free to give Providence its first lead of the game, 52-51.

Cartwright's last second shot, however, went long sending the game to overtime.

The Wildcats scored the game's first 19 points and cruised to an 87-68 victory.

For the second straight day, freshman Nate Watson (Arlington, Va.) entered off the bench for Providence and provided an immediate spark. Eric Paschall hit a floater in the lane that seemed to steady the Wildcats.

Edwards' ability to slow Brunson's dribble penetration was a big reason why Providence held Villanova to 60 points in regulation. Butler has lost three of four games.

Who We Like: Villanova has been an over-covering machine for bettors lately.

  • Angelo Rivera