Rushed Reactions: #4 Villanova 63, Providence 61

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 13th, 2015


Three Key Takeaways.

Just Another Night in the Big East Tournament (USA Today Images)

Just Another Night in the Big East Tournament (USA Today Images)

  1. That was an old school Big East battle. Some people like to talk about how the “new” Big East just isn’t the same, but they fail to remember the Big East was a small nine-team league when it developed its reputation as one of the top conferences in the nation. Two of those nine teams battled it out in this game and the result was a throwback to classic Big East games of the past. This was as good as it gets. A tough, physical underdog going up against the conference goliath that is playing as well as any team in the nation. The Garden crowd was electric on this Friday night for a game that more than lived up to its billing.
  2. Providence dominated the boards and nearly overcame poor shooting. The Friars shot only 35 percent for the game but outrebounded Villanova 42-30, including a 19-9 advantage on the offensive boards. Freshman Ben Bentil in particular was great, pulling down six offensive boards and scoring 12 points mostly from second chances. Providence held a 19-6 edge in second chance points but just could not overcome a rough shooting night by most of its better players. LaDontae Henton, Kris Dunn and Tyler Harris were a combined 11-of-33 (33 percent) from the floor.
  3. This game was a great test for both teams as they head into the NCAA Tournament. There is no doubt that both Villanova and Providence will be participating in the Big Dance next week. Both coaches commented after that game about how much a tough, close, grinding game like this one gives them valuable experience heading into the NCAAs. NCAA Tournament games always seem to be played at a slower pace; although both of these teams are comfortable in transition, getting a hard-fought experience against a quality opponent like here can only help as they transition into next week’s action.

Player of the Game:  Daniel Ochefu, Villanova. Could reasonably have gone with Kris Dunn or Josh Hart in this spot, but Ochefu was dominant inside tonight, especially defensively. Providence was smothered most of the time when it tried to go in the paint and a lot of that credit goes to Ochefu. His five blocks tied a season high. On the offensive end, the Villanova big man totaled 15 points and 13 rebounds, his seventh double-double of the season. Ochefu plays an important role as a true big man on an otherwise undersized team. He will be a valuable piece as Villanova begins its quest for a national championship.


  • “I’m thrilled. I love this tournament more than any other tournament.” – Villanova coach Jay Wright on playing on Friday night at MSG.
  • “I’d rather not have one of these games, but after you do, it’s really good to go through it.” – Wright, on the experience of a close game against a quality team.
  • “They lifted all four guys above the foul line, which is really unusual.” – Wright, on Providence’s defensive approach.
  • “I don’t know what the hell that committee thinks.” – Providence coach Ed Cooley, responding to a question about where he expects to be seeded in the NCAA Tournament.
  • “I think he’s the best player in the league. By far… and there is no close second.” – Cooley on his point guard, Kris Dunn. Dunn had 22 points, seven rebounds and nine assists tonight. 

Wildcard: This game was decided by a controversial foul call that resulted in two decisive Ryan Arcidiacono free throws. Those of us here at MSG thought it was a foul while watching the play live, but the replay painted a murkier picture. Ed Cooley declined to take the bait when asked about it after the game, but Providence fans may have a gripe here.

Sights and Sounds: Big East fans delivered tonight as the Garden was buzzing all night. We don’t have the official attendance numbers yet but it had to be at least in the 14,000 to 15,000 range. You could feel the intensity rise as the minutes ticked away in the second half, culminating in an incredible final minute of action. Friday night at the Big East Tournament rarely disappoints, and this one sure didn’t.

What’s Next: Villanova will take on the winner of the second semifinal, which has Georgetown and Xavier currently in action. Despite a legendary history in the Big East, Villanova has only won one conference tournament title (1995). Perhaps years ending in “5” are good for the Wildcats. They won the national title in 1985, the aforementioned Big East title in 1995 and made the Sweet Sixteen in 2005. As for Providence, the Friars will await Sunday’s Selection Show to find out their next opponent and where they will be headed. The general consensus is that Ed Cooley’s team will earn a seed in the No. 5 to No. 6 range.

Brian Otskey (269 Posts)

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One response to “Rushed Reactions: #4 Villanova 63, Providence 61”

  1. Paul Legault says:

    Brian doorbell should be disciplined for that horrendous call to decide the game.A cyo ref would not have made that call.McConnell always tries to be bigger than the game.His ego ruined a great big east game.

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