Rushed Reactions: #4 Villanova 69, Xavier 52

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 14th, 2015


Villanova won its first Big East Tournament title since 1995 and all but locked up a No. 1 seed at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

Three Key Takeaways.

Villanova Dominated the Big East From Start to Finish This Season (USA Today Images)

Villanova Dominated the Big East From Start to Finish This Season (USA Today Images)

  1. Villanova made a statement tonight. The Wildcats were in control of this game from the start, encouraged by a highly partisan Madison Square Garden crowd. It was a microcosm of Villanova’s season in which it dominated a very good Big East conference with a 16-2 regular season record. Xavier was able to get in a few licks, but tonight was all about the Wildcats. While Jay Wright’s team may be a bit too over-reliant on the three-pointer, it has clearly shown that it can beat anyone in the country. This was also a good tournament for Villanova from an experience perspective. The Wildcats destroyed an inferior Marquette club on Thursday only to be pushed to the brink by Providence the next night. Tonight, Villanova made very quick work of a strong and surging Xavier team.
  2. Jay Wright challenged his team and it responded. After Thursday’s opening win over Marquette, Wright said this was not one of his better defensive teams even after holding the Golden Eagles to just 49 points. Last night the Wildcats limited Providence to 35 percent shooting. Against Xavier, the Musketeers were held to 52 points on 37.9 percent shooting. Whether it was coachspeak or something else, Villanova answered the bell. In watching this team all year, it makes up for a lack of size with an aggressive three-quarter court zone press that falls back into a stifling man-to-man with intense ball pressure. On some night when the threes don’t fall in the NCAA Tournament, it is going to be up to Villanova’s defense to carry it through. And it is capable.
  3. Xavier’s inconsistency was on display again. While Villanova is an incredibly tough opponent to deal with, the gritty play the Musketeers displayed against Butler and Georgetown earlier this week wasn’t there tonight. This loss in particular is not a concern going into the NCAA Tournament, but for a team that has lost 13 times (some against weak competition), it’s worth tracking. Chris Mack’s team is more than capable of reaching the Sweet Sixteen but it is going to have to play more consistently in order to get there. It was a good experience this week in New York for Xavier, but it must get down to business with outstanding focus after the selection show tomorrow night.

Player of the Game:  Josh Hart, Villanova. The Wildcats’ sixth man, of whom Wright said he would not take that role next season, continued to impress. Only a sophomore, Hart totaled an efficient 15 points, making seven of his nine shots in addition to grabbing seven rebounds. His play speaks to the balance and great chemistry of this team. He fits seamlessly in the lineup and his growth is a testament to the incredible player development under Wright’s leadership.


  • “This is my favorite tournament.” – Villanova head coach Jay Wright.
  • “They have a chance. They really have a chance. We’ll see how we do in the next tournament.” – Wright, on whether this is the best Villanova team he has coached.
  • “This is something really special. Every school that comes to this event is a basketball school. It’s awesome to be a part of this.” – Wright, on the Big East Conference.
  • “We could win it, but we could get beat by anybody. It’s just the way college basketball is.” – Wright, on his team’s NCAA Tournament prospects.
  • “I’m proud of our team. It’s not easy to sit up here after you get your ass kicked in the Big East championship.” – Xavier coach Chris Mack.

Sights and Sounds: It wasn’t a sellout, but it was virtually a home game for Villanova as the Wildcats enjoyed a strong 90-10 advantage from the sounds of it. Commissioner Val Ackerman called it the most exciting tournament in college basketball during the awards presentation after the game, and she’ll get no argument here. This tournament continues to churn out exciting basketball year after year after year.

The Big East Tournament Continues to Impress Year After Year (USA Today Images)

The Big East Tournament Continues to Impress Year After Year (USA Today Images)

What’s Next: Villanova likely clinched a No. 1 seed (possibly in the East region) with a Big East tournament title while Xavier looks to be solidly in the NCAA picture. Both teams will find out their opponents tomorrow night when the brackets are announced.

Brian Otskey (269 Posts)

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