Providence vs Villanova
When: 12:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 14, 2019
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
NEW YORK – Villanova may be the No. 1 seed, but the defending national champions certainly limped into the Big East Tournament. The 25th-ranked Wildcats arrive at Madison Square Garden having lost five of their last eight games and now must take on an eighth-seeded Providence squad that it beat by 10 points and 18 points during the regular season.
Its last time out, Villanova fell to Seton Hall 79-75 despite 22 points from Collin Gillespie and 16 from senior Phil Booth. “We’re still a work in progress, but we feel good,” said coach Jay Wright, whose team has reached the Big East Tournament final in each of the last four years, winning three. Now the Wildcats will try to become the first team to ever win the Big East Tournament three years in a row. Standing in the way at the moment are the Friars, who slammed Butler 80-57 on Wednesday evening and now have a quick turnaround for Thursday’s affair.
TV: Noon ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (18-14): The Friars were led Wednesday by Maliek White (19 points), Alpha Diallo (18) and David Duke (16). White knocked down three 3-pointers, while Diallo and Duke had two apiece as the team finished a crisp 11-of-23 from 3-point land. Isaiah Jackson pitched in 13 points off the bench against Butler and has made multiple 3s in four straight games, averaging 17 points per game over that stretch.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (22-9): The Wildcats had two unanimous picks for the All-Big East first team in Booth (18.6 points) and Eric Paschall (16.5). Booth has not been held below nine points all season and has knocked down half of his 14 3-pointers in the last two games, giving him a team-high 83 3s on the year. Paschall is just 2-of-12 from 3-point range in the last three games, but he has scored in double figures in 25 of the last 26 outings.
1. Three of Providence’s last four games have come against Butler (all victories).
2. Gillespie (11.3 points) had scored in single figures in six of the previous seven games before erupting to shoot 8-of-12 (4-of-5 from 3-point land) against Seton Hall.
3. Booth averaged 22.5 points in two games against Providence this season.