Rushed Reactions: Villanova 74, Creighton 60Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 11th, 2017
RTC’s Justin Kundrat (@justinkundrat) is providing on-site coverage of the Big East Tournament all week long.
Three Key Takeaways.
- It’s going to take a confluence of factors for Villanova to lose. As Butler proved this season, Villanova is beatable only under a perfect set of circumstances. Namely, an off shooting night from the Wildcats and opposing personnel that are capable of slowing the game to a crawl and turning it into a rock fight. Villanova struggles with defensive-minded teams that successfully clog the paint and force them to settle for jump shots. Across its three losses this season, Villanova attempted a significantly higher than average number of three-pointers. But few teams have the personnel to warp the driving lanes of Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson, a critical source of scoring and ball movement.
- Josh Hart has cemented his place as National Player of the Year. With the ever-improving play of Brunson and the emergence of Donte DiVincenzo as a lights-out shooter, Hart’s NPOY campaign took a back seat for a while. But he always seems to show up at the right times, whether by forcing his way into the lane to generate offense or coming up with a loose ball on the defensive end. Given Villanova’s strong play lately and Hart’s “do-it-all” role, it’s difficult to argue against him winning the award. And if there was a good guy of the year award, Hart would probably win that too.
- For better or worse, Creighton remains highly match-up dependent. On one end, the Bluejays’ spread offense is well-equipped to deal with a variety of opposing defenses (although its effectiveness lately has been tied to streaky shooting). However, the team has struggled on the defensive end, particularly against perimeter-oriented teams that rely heavily on ball movement to exploit out of position defenders. Xavier, Marquette and Villanova all fit this mold, and perhaps unsurprisingly, all have posted highly efficient games in their battles with Creighton.
Star of the Game. Josh Hart (29 points, six rebounds) once again dictated the Villanova offense, scoring in bunches to open the game and generate a sizable lead for the Wildcats. With some breathing room, Jay Wright‘s group looked noticeably more comfortable compared to last night’s game. Nevertheless, it should not come as a surprise that the frontrunner for National Player of the Year is receiving this accolade.
- Josh Hart on the team’s underwhelming postgame celebration: “I think last time we stormed the court, but part of it was just exhaustion.”
- Jay Wright, on Hart: “I think he’s the best, most complete player in the country. I don’t see anybody who does everything like he does.”
- Wright, on whether his team has earned the #1 overall seed: “Probably… but we don’t really care. We’re gonna be fine wherever they seed us.”
Sights & Sounds. For all the discussion around Creighton’s strong showing last night, Bluejays’ fans were blown out of the water by the sheer quantity of Villanova fans this evening. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the school’s proximity advantage, but you could tell who scored just by listening to the fan reactions.
What’s Next? Both teams will have a few days off to prepare for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Villanova was crowned the Big East champion for the second time in three years, while Creighton came up short in the title game for the second time in four years.