Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - After earning the Big East Conference
regular season title on Thursday night, the sixth-ranked Villanova Wildcats
will finish off the campaign against an old rival when the Georgetown Hoyas
come calling on Saturday afternoon.
With a 77-70 road win over Xavier on Thursday night, Villanova improved to
15-2 in league play and captured its first outright Big East regular season
title since the 1981-82 season. The Wildcats' only two losses in league play
came in double-digit blowouts against Creighton, the team just behind them in
the conference standings, but they have been stellar outside of those
Four straight wins in early February seemed to bolster Georgetown's weak NCAA
Tournament hopes, but the Hoyas have gone just 2-3 in their last five games.
Although they were coming off a convincing 75-63 victory over Creighton, the
Hoyas' 17-12 overall record, including an 8-9 success rate against the Big
East, still needs a lot of work to earn them a spot in the Big Dance.
These long-time rivals played in another classic earlier this season, when
Villanova pulled out a 65-60 win in Washington D.C. The Wildcats have won the
last two matchups, but Georgetown still holds a sizable 49-30 edge in the all-
On the back of double-doubles from both D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (18 points, 10
rebounds) and Markel Starks (17 points, 11 assists), Georgetown was able to
coast past Creighton for one of its most impressive wins of the season. The
Hoyas did allow 10 3-pointers to the Bluejays, but held them to just 39.7
percent shooting overall.
Starks (17 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Smith-Rivera (16.9 ppg) are far and away the
most productive contributors to Georgetown's cause. Starks is scoring at a
career-best rate in his senior season, but he is shooting just 41.6 percent
from the floor and 32 percent from beyond the arc, both below his career
averages. However, some of that has to do with the added weight on his
shoulders as the go-to option. Smith-Rivera, a solid performer off the bench a
year ago, has carved out an important spot in the rotation this season by
nearly doubling his scoring average. Jabril Trawick (8.9 ppg) is the next-best
scoring threat on the squad, while Nate Lubick (5.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Mikael
Hopkins (6.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) patrol the interior.
Darrun Hilliard led the way for Villanova in its title-clinching win over
Xavier, netting 19 points. The Wildcats connected on 46.9 percent of their
shots from the field, while limiting the Musketeers to 38.3 percent. They also
won the rebounding battle, 38-30.
There has been very little weakness in Villanova's game this season. The
Wildcats rank second in the Big East in both scoring (79.1 ppg) and assists
(15.9 apg), while shooting 46 percent from the floor. They lead the conference
in rebounding (37.3 rpg) and they hold their opponents to 66.9 ppg on 40.4
percent shooting. James Bell (15 ppg, 6 rpg) is the top scoring threat for a
group of four averaging in double figures. JayVaughn Pinkston (14.4 pg, 6.1
rpg) provides strong support from the interior, and Hilliard (14.2 ppg) and
Ryan Arcidiacono (10 ppg, 3.6 apg) fill in around Bell in the backcourt.
Pinkston added 15 points against Xavier, Bell had 12 and Arcidiacono chipped
in with 11 points and seven assists.
The Sports Network