Villanova Wildcats (13-5, 16-6) at Louisville Cardinals (16-2, 26-5)
Big East Tournament Semifinals
Friday, March 13 - 7:00 PM EST on ESPN
The first semifinal game of the Big East Tournament features no upsets as the fourth seeded Villanova Wildcats take on the top seeded Louisville Cardinals.
This almost wasn't the case, though, as the Wildcats escaped a second-half surge by Marquette on Thursday. Up by 16 at the half, Marquette came back to be up by one, until Villanova's Dwayne Anderson made a backdoor cut layup that bounced around the rim as time expired.
Louisville's journey to the semifinals has left their fans' cuticles in much better shape. They faced Providence in their first game of the tournament, and the outcome of the game was never in question as the Cardinals defeated the Friars 73-59.
This is only the second game of the Big East Tournament for both teams as they each received double-bye's (this is the first season where the double-bye is possible).
Not only is this going to be a great matchup on the team level, but there should be some great player matchups as well:
Scottie Reynolds (G, Villanova) vs. Andre McGee (G, Louisville)
Reynolds: 15.7 PPG, .376 3P%, 3.7 APG, Big East Honorable Mention
McGee: 5.3 PPG, .368 3P%
Reggie Redding (G, Villanova) vs. Jerry Smith (G, Louisville)
Redding: 6.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG
Smith: 7.4 PPG, .396 3P%
Dante Cunningham (F, Villanova) vs. Samardo Samuels (F, Louisville)
Cunningham: 16.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, All-Big East Second Team
Samuels: 11.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, Big East All-Rookie Team
Shane Clark (F, Villanova) vs. Terrence Williams (F, Louisville)
Clark: 5.4 PPG, .364 3P%
Williams: 12.8 PPG, .377 3P%, 8.5 RPG, 5.1 APG, All-Big East First Team
Dwayne Anderson (G-F, Villanova) vs. Earl Clark (G-F, Louisville)
Anderson: 8.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, .315 3P%
Clark: 13.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, .297 3P%, 3.1 APG, All Big-East Third Team
These two teams faced each other on January 10th, and Louisville managed to win 61-60. After being up by as many as 11, the Cardinals let the Wildcats back into that game. Villanova proved to be their own worst enemy down the stretch as they went 6-for-14 from the charity stripe in the final 8.5 minutes, including two missed free-throws with 4.5 seconds left and a couple of missed tips. It was a classic physical Big East game at the beginning of good seasons for both teams.
Down the stretch, both teams needed to perform well—Louisville to win the regular season title and Villanova to make it into the top four and secure their double-bye.
This should be a great game between two great Big East programs. The winner of this game moves on to the Big East Tournament Finals on Saturday. Louisville is trying for their first appearance in school history, while Nova is looking to return for the first time since 1997.
By The Numbers
|FG%||D. FG%||3P%||D. 3P%||FT%||RPG||SPG||APG||TPG|
|PPG||D. Cunningham - 16.4||E. Clark - 13.6|
|S. Reynolds - 15.7||T. Williams - 12.8|
|C. Fisher - 10.8||S. Samuels - 11.8|
|RPG||D. Cunningham - 7.3||E. Clark - 8.8|
|APG||S. Reynolds - 3.7||T. Williams - 5.1|
|SPG||S. Reynolds - 1.5||T. Williams - 2.3|
|BPG||D. Cunningham - 1.3||E. Clark - 1.5|