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Big EAST Tournament Final Preview: Villanova vs. Creighton

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NEW YORK- The day has finally come, the 2017 Big EAST Tournament final is here. Defending national champion Villanova will face Creighton at 5:30 pm ET at Madison Square Garden to determine who will receive the Big EAST 2017 automatic bid.

The final is set after an unbelievable semi-final which featured the Villanova Wildcats defeating the Seton Hall Pirates on a flat-out All-American play by Big EAST Player of the Year Josh Hart, who had an and-one tip in with 9.6 to go to win the game. In the second semi-final, offensives reigned supreme as the

In the second semi-final, offensives reigned supreme as the Creighton Bluejays took down the Xavier Musketeers on a hot shooting night from Marcus Foster who poured in 21 points, including the game-winning three with 8 seconds left. With the final set, each team will need to focus on 3 specific areas to be successful.

VILLANOVA

  1. Supporting Cast- To put it very simply, Josh Hart is the best player in the Big EAST Conference. The do it all G/F for the Wildcats should be a first round pick in this years NBA Draft. He also should win the Naismith Award for National Player of the Year after his 19 point 10 rebound heroic performance against Seton Hall. Villanova needs to lean on their star in the biggest moments of the Championship game, however, the ‘Cats need more out of the rest of the team. Kris Jenkins needs to find the range from 3 point land (0-5 against SHU) and Jalen Brunson needs to give more than 13 points and 2 assists.
  2. Don’t Get Caught Napping- After thrashing St. John’s in their first matchup, Villanova scored only 20 points in the first half against Seton Hall. Villanova can’t come out lackadaisical and assume they are going to win by 20. The Wildcats should push from the moment the game starts to the moment it ends.
  3. Play Villanova Basketball- Villanova is the best team in the Big EAST and we have seen it all year. Dominating their schedule this year, they need to show why tomorrow. If the Wildcats come out and play smart, not turning the ball over and taking contested tough two’s, they should be able to get out in front early.

CREIGHTON

  1. Justin Patton- Justin Patton is an NBA Center. A true 7 footer who can run and jump with the best of them, imposed his will on the Musketeers with 21 points including a three, as well as 2 blocks. In order for the Bluejays to defeat Villanova, Patton has to play well. The wildcats are smaller up front with only two players over 6’9”, Patton needs to take advantage on this. While he is not a great rebounder, Patton needs to be active in crashing the glass putting pressure on the ‘Nova bigs.
  2. Space the Floor- One of the better 3-point shooting teams in the conference, hitting 13 of 20 three-pointers against Xavier. Creighton needs to connect from deep and space the floor and force Villanova to run out and contest every shot. If they start hitting from deep, which they are known to do, the Bluejays could be tough to stop. Cole Huff, Isaiah Zierden, and Foster will be huge from here.
  3. Pick your Poison- It is nearly impossible to stop every single player on Villanova let alone any basketball team. Creighton needs to decide early who they are going to key in on. If one player is beating you, you can throw help the defenders way, but if two or even three are, you are in for long night. So who will the Bluejays pick? Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Kris Jenkins are the 3 biggest weapons, so count on the Jays to look to disrupt at least 2 of them.

No matter what happens in tomorrow nights finals, it will certainly be a game for the ages and one the players will remember for the rest of their lives. Marcus Foster certainly won’t forget it, “Growing up always wanting to play at Madison Square Garden and having this moment is just an amazing feeling to have”.

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