St. John’s vs Villanova
When: 12:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 9, 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
NEW YORK – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Villanova accomplished virtually all of its goals last season with one notable exception – a Big East tournament title. The second-ranked Wildcats arrive in New York City as the top seed in this year’s event and will begin their quest for a tournament championship Thursday against St. John’s in a quarterfinal contest.
The Wildcats won the 2016 national championship despite a two-point loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament title game. They have won 34 of their 37 games since – losing twice to Butler and once at Marquette – and now will tangle with the eighth-seeded Red Storm. Villanova closed the regular season with a solid 16-point win against Creighton and a 26-point rout at Georgetown, virtually assuring the team of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That said, a loss to St. John’s wouldn’t be much of a springboard into this year’s Big Dance.
TV: Noon ET, FS1
ABOUT ST. JOHN’S (14-18): The Red Storm nipped Georgetown by a point on Wednesday thanks to 17 from Shamorie Ponds and 14 from Bashir Ahmed. Malik Ellison delivered 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals for St. John’s, which won a Big East tournament game for the first time in six years. Marcus LoVett continued to struggle with his shooting, however, connecting on 2-of-9 attempts en route to four points to drop his shooting percentage to 34.4 percent over his last six contests.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (28-3): The Wildcats relied on two seniors in their win over Georgetown as Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 40 points while sophomore Jalen Brunson chipped in 17. Hart, who was just named the Big East Player of the Year, has registered double digits in points in every game this season and also leads the team in rebounding (6.5) while ranking second in assists, steals and 3-pointers. Brunson is shooting 6-of-17 in the last two contests following a two-game stretch during which he was 16-of-20.
1. Hart, a 75-percent foul shooter, is just 2-of-11 from the line over his last three games.
2. Villanova won both meetings with St. John’s this season by 13 points.
3. The winner will face either No. 4 seed Marquette or fifth-seeded Seton Hall in the semifinals.