For the third time in four years, the Villanova Wildcats are champions of the Big East Tournament. With a 76-66 overtime victory over Providence in the title game, Villanova has essentially locked up another No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday.
Providence battled back from a 10-point deficit with 11 minutes left, but Villanova’s talent advantage took hold in overtime. Redshirt junior forward Mikal Bridges hit a pair of clutch three-pointers in the OT period to finish with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
Villanova was led by junior point guard Jalen Brunson, who made a strong statement for his national player of the year candidacy. Brunson finished with 31 points and three assists, including multiple clutch baskets down the stretch. No other Villanova player reached double-figures.
This was the first season Villanova didn’t win the Big East regular season championship since the league reformed, but the Wildcats earned their accolades in the postseason tournament. They survived a game effort from Providence, who was led by 22 points from Alpha Diallo and 19 points from Kyron Cartwright.
Villanova enters the tournament No. 1 in offensive efficiency according to KenPom. Villanova won it all two years and expectations will be firmly set for them to do it again.
This is a Final Four or bust season for the Wildcats in what’s likely their last year with Bridges and possibly Brunson.