Villanova secured its place in Big East history by becoming the third program in conference history to appear in four straight championship games after defeating Butler 87-68 Friday.
The Wildcats will have a chance to earn their fourth Big East conference championship as they take on Providence College on Saturday. A win would mark their third championship in four years and would move them into third place in all-time tournament victories.
This year’s team suffered three of its four losses in the month of February. However, it played two of its best games in the tournament, winning by an average of 21.5 points. Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright, however, doesn’t believe the time of year affects the team’s play.
“I think this year has been a unique year where we just had crazy injuries,” Wright said. “Now that we’ve got everybody back, we’re back kind of playing how we did before the injuries.”
Providence College is the lowest-seeded opponent Villanova has faced since the 2014-15 Xavier Musketeers, a game the Wildcats won by 17 points.
Wright does not believe the same outcome will translate just because his opponent is a low seed, stating that the Friars’ length and athleticism on defense can really disrupt the Wildcats’ offensive flow. He’s focused on making sure his team plays well on both sides of the ball.
“We’re more concerned with how good Cartwright is, how well Lindsey shoots the ball and how to defend them,” Wright said. “They do a great job defending us. We have to be able to score on them.”
Although Wright would not concede that the team is now hitting its stride, he did praise how well his unit defended against Butler, despite its 48 percent shooting clip in the game, a trait he said the team must continue if it wants to win Saturday.
“It might have been one of our best defensive efforts,” Wright said. “This is a hard league to defend in. So even though they shot 48 percent, I thought they (Villanova) played pretty well.”
The Wildcats have secured victories in eight of their last nine meetings with the Friars in the Big East Tournament. Wright will not change their play style to try on capitalize on their opponent’s fatigue after playing in two straight overtime games.
“We’ll be more concerned with what we do,” Wright said.
The championship game will tip at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Madison Square Garden.