Mike Stobe/Getty Images

No. 2 Villanova wins Big East tourney, 74-60 over Creighton

Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Josh Hart scored 29 points and No. 2 Villanova beat Creighton 74-60 on Saturday to win the Big East Tournament and probably lock up the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Hart, the conference player of the year, became just the third player to win the tournament MVP award twice, joining Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Peyton Siva of Louisville.

Villanova (31-3) played Villanova basketball, just as the Wildcats did last season in winning the national championship. Good defense, sharing the ball and making 3-pointers is the formula that has led them to four consecutive Big East regular-season titles.

This was their third Big East Tournament crown, the others coming in 1995 and 2015.

The Wildcats had their hands on so many Creighton passes, they forced 17 turnovers that led to 21 points. And with Hart leading the way, they made every big shot they needed.

Jalen Brunson added 17 points for Villanova. Kris Jenkins, whose 3-pointer won the national championship game last year, had 14.

Cole Huff and Marcus Foster each scored 13 points to lead Creighton (25-9).

Villanova, which lost last season’s Big East championship game to Seton Hall, closed the first half on a 25-11 run to go up 36-22. Hart had 12 points in the spurt and Brunson added eight. The two combined to score the Wildcats’ final 20 points in the semifinals.

The lead reached 46-26, and the closest the Bluejays got the rest of the way was 12.

Hart, who along with Brunson defended Foster, scored every way imaginable, from 3-pointers to acrobatic drives. He finished the tournament with 63 points and was 21 of 41 from the field. The 29 points marked his third-highest total of the season.

Creighton was 2 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half and the Bluejays committed 10 turnovers, only 2.3 fewer than they averaged per game this season.

The title game was played before a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden, which hosted the tournament for the 35th consecutive year.

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays’ only other championship game appearance was in 2014 when they lost to Providence. … Creighton lost three of four games coming into the tournament. … The Bluejays beat Providence 70-53 in the quarterfinals and Xavier 76-72 in the semifinals. … The 14-point halftime deficit was Creighton’s largest of the season, and its 22 points were five fewer than its previous low for the season.

Villanova: The Wildcats swept the season series with Creighton, winning by 10 and 16 points. … Villanova beat St. John’s 108-67 in the quarterfinals and Seton Hall 55-53 in the semifinals. … The Wildcats came into the game 2-2 in Big East championship games.

NOT FREE

The game’s first free throw was taken with 4:30 left in the first half.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Jenkins, Brunson, Foster, Angel Delgado of Seton Hall and Trevon Bluiett of Xavier comprised the all-tournament team.

UP NEXT

Creighton: Will wait to hear where it is headed in the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday.

Villanova: Should hear its name called first when the brackets are announced.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

Leave a comment

Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

Al Bello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.