clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Sun’s Arizin: Villanova Basketball Heading Into Big East Showdown

Tuesday’s game in Providence could decide the Big East Championship.

Villanova Mug Arizin Links

Happy Monday Nova Nation! Football is over, and the eyes of the sports world will now begin to turn to basketball. No, they’re not quite on the NCAA yet, they need to take that pesky pitstop over at the NBA All-Star game. But fans are starting to at least pay attention to who are the top teams in college basketball?

Two of those teams will be going head to head tomorrow at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center as the Providence Friars take on the Villanova Wildcats. Even more importantly, this game could very well decide the Big East Regular Season Champions.

Currently the Friars sit two games ahead of Villanova in the loss column. The losses are important because Providence has missed three more games this season than Villanova, and so the Regular Season Championship will be decided by Win %. Basically that means if Providence finishes with fewer losses than Villanova, they win. If Villanova finishes with fewer or the same number of losses as Providence, they win. The rest of the conference sits at least four losses back of Providence, so this is really just a two horse race.

With both teams having five games left on the season, including playing each other twice, both teams technically control their own destiny. If Providence wins tomorrow, they’d have to lose three of their last four games to not win the title. For Villanova, a win Tuesday pulls them within one game of the Friars. That would set up another huge showdown on March 1st, where the title may be on the line. To put it simply, Providence needs to win one of two games against Nova, while Villanova needs to win out.

Beyond the title implications, there’s an interesting side story going on with Providence, thanks in no small part to KenPom.com. That would be the thought that Providence is “Lucky”. Unlike second place Villanova, the computer rankings down’t love the Friars. Even in the NET Rankings, Providence ranks 29th to Villanova’s 6th. That’s because of of the metrics heavy rankings like KenPom (47th), BPI (39th), and Sagarin (32nd), all have them outside the Top 30. All of that said, Providence is still 21-2 on the season, 5-1 in Quad 1, and 10-2 in Q1&Q2. This is a good team, they just play (and win) in a lot of close games.

That’s where the “Luck” has come in. KenPom has a metric called “Luck” that factors in how many close late games have gone a team’s way. The thought behind the stat is that there are some elements of college basketball in late game situations that you just can’t control, and so naturally you’re likely to win some and lose some. Providence has won every single game in which the final score was within two possessions, tying them with 2008 Wagner as the highest “Luck” metric KenPom has ever had on a season.

Honestly though, this is a little deceiving. It’s not that Providence is winning every game this way, it’s only happened nine times. They’ve only one by a single possession three times on the season, and that includes their lone OT game on the year against DePaul on Saturday (although that’s not something to be proud of). For some perspective, Villanova ranks 147th in “Luck” with six games decided by two possessions or less. They have a 4-2 record in two possession games, and are 1-1 when the final score is decided by three points or less.

At the end of the day, this thing isn’t going to come down to luck as much as it’ll come down to refs. This will easily be the most insane crowd Villanova has faced all season. On top of that, both teams want to play slow and grind out the game. And both teams are good at shooting free throws. The difference is that Providence is exceptional at getting to the line. The Friars rank 10th in the country in free throw rate, and the guy that gets there the most (167 times this year) in Al Durham shoots 84% from the stripe. The Wildcats are pretty good at playing defense without fouling, ranking 57th in defensive free throw rate. But factor in the atmosphere and the stakes, it will take a lot for players to remain in control on defense.

Bottom line, it should be an epic game on Tuesday night... on CBS Sorts Network!?!?

In other news...

NBA Wildcats

Knicks Sign Ryan Arcidiacono For Rest Of Season | Hoops Rumors
Arcidiacono signed a deal with the Knicks that will keep him in New York for the rest of the 2021/22 season.

Could the Portland Trail Blazers have too much Josh Hart? - Rip City Project
Josh Hart has quickly become a favorite of Portland Trail Blazers fans but will he survive General Manager Joe Cronin's retooling process?

Suns' Mikal Bridges reacts to Rams' Super Bowl win on IG Live | Arizona Sports
Rams superfan Mikal Bridges was ecstatic on Instagram Live following the Rams 23-20 Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Villanova defeats Seton Hall

Seton Hall can't close out upset in loss to No. 15 Villanova | New York Post
If the ball had bounced Seton Hall’s way in any of those instances, maybe the Pirates would have beaten No. 15 Villanova for their fourth straight victory.

Photos of Villanova's 73-67 victory over Seton Hall | The Inquirer
Villanova defeated Big East rival Seton Hall 73-67 at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 12, 2022.

Villanova outlasts Seton Hall, 73-67, in another gut-it-out battle | The Inquirer
Wildcats make plays and hit foul shots down the stretch for another single-digit win over the Pirates.

Villanova at Providence

Bynum leads No. 11 Providence against No. 15 Villanova after 25-point performance | The Washington Post
No. 11 Providence takes on the No. 15 Villanova Wildcats after Jared Bynum scored 25 points in Providence’s 76-73 overtime victory over the DePaul Blue Demons

No. 11 Providence battles No. 15 Villanova in Big East showdown | Sports Naut
Big East supremacy will be at stake Tuesday when No. 15 Villanova visits No. 11 Providence.

Big East

With Maryland rumors swirling, Jay Wright and Rick Pitino rave about Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard | nj.com
Kevin Willard continues to be linked to the Maryland opening, and Rick Pitino and Jay Wright both say the Seton Hall coach can succeed at any level.

Villanova Athletics

Men's Lacrosse Comes Up Just Short in 13-12 Loss to Villanova | Penn State University Athletics
Penn State men's lacrosse erased a five-goal deficit to take a one-goal lead late in the third quarter but came up just short in the end in a 13-12 loss to Villanova

VILLANOVA FALLS TO MARSHALL IN FIRST GAME OF THE DAY | Villanova University
ATLANTA, GA. – In game one of Saturday's split doubleheader, the Villanova Wildcats fell to the Marshall Thundering Herd by a score of 8-0 in a game played at Georgia

Jones Hits First Home Run of Season But Wildcats Fall to Georgia Tech, 5-2 | Villanova University
ATLANTA, Ga.—Junior catcher Ally Jones (Brielle, N.J.) hit her first home run of the season to right field with one out in the seventh inning of a 5-2 loss to Georgia

William & Mary Rallies Late to Beat Villanova 14-13 | Villanova University
Villanova, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats were defeated Saturday afternoon by the William & Mary Tribe in both team's season opening games. The Tribe came out victorious

Defense shines in takedown of Mount St. Mary’s | Villanova University
Princeton, N.J. – A strong defensive effort that saw Villanova hold Mount St. Mary's scoreless in the second half led the Wildcats to a 14-3 win in their opening

Sebastian Triples Home Winning Runs as Villanova Defeats Saint Joseph’s, 7-5 | Villanova University
ATLANTA, Ga.—Junior Victoria Sebastian (Ridgewood, N.J.) drove in the go-ahead runs with a triple to right field in the bottom of the fifth inning and the bats broke

Women’s Track & Field Starts Weekend Strong at Rutgers Open | Villanova University
NEW YORK—Senior thrower Emily Galvin (Pitman, N.J.) recorded the fourth-longest throw in school history in the weight throw as Villanova started strong on the first

Men’s Track & Field Wrapped Up Competition at Rutgers Open on Saturday Afternoon | Villanova University
NEW YORK—Sophomore middle distance runner Chris Weeks (Springfield, Va.) lowered his personal best in the 800 meters by just over seven-tenths of a second and Villanova

Jane Livingston Lowers PR in 60 Meter Hurdles to 8.25 at Tiger Paw Invite | Villanova University
CLEMSON, S.C.—Junior hurdler Jane Livingston (Lancaster, Pa.) lowered her personal best in the 60 meter hurdles in consecutive races at the Tiger Paw Invite on Friday

Sanaä Barnes Opened Up Indoor Season at Tiger Paw Invite on Saturday Morning | Villanova University
CLEMSON, S.C.—Senior high jumper Sanaä Barnes (Keller, Texas) opened her 2022 competition season by clearing a height of 1.77 meters at the Tiger Paw Invite