Battle in The Big East

Villanova got the win it needed to strengthen its case for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but another one would certainly help.

A little revenge wouldn't hurt either.

The Wildcats will try to bolster their tournament credentials on Thursday against the Big East tournament's top seed and defending champion, No. 8 Georgetown, which benefited from a controversial call to beat Villanova (20-11) last month.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Georgetown -7 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Villanova +7 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

The score was tied at 53 on Feb. 11 in the nation's capital with just seconds left in a foul-plagued game. Villanova had a chance to take the final shot of regulation, but the Hoyas deflected the ball off Wildcats guard Scottie Reynolds' hands as time winded down.

Georgetown's Jonathan Wallace picked up the loose ball and was bumped by freshman Corey Stokes along the sideline. Despite only minor contact, a foul was called - the 48th of the game - Wallace sank two free throws with one-tenth of a second left, and Villanova had a potential season-defining win taken away in the 55-53 loss.

After an 82-63 win over Syracuse on Wednesday to advance to the tournament's quarterfinals, the eighth-seeded Wildcats now get a second chance against the Hoyas (25-4) - one Stokes says they've been waiting for.

"Me and my teammates have been really looking forward to this game,'' said Stokes, who tied a season high with 18 points against the Orange.

The Wildcats won't just be looking for payback from their February defeat at Georgetown. They also lost to the top-seeded Hoyas in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament last year.

Georgetown is 12-0 all-time in games it's played as the tournament's top seed, having won titles in 1984, 1987, 1989 and last season.

The Hoyas followed their 2007 Big East regular-season and tournament titles with a trip to the Final Four. With center Roy Hibbert back, they were expected to again be a top-10 team, and haven't disappointed.

Georgetown has won five straight entering the tournament, and won the regular-season title outright on Saturday by beating then-No. 12 Louisvllle 55-52.

Coach John Thompson III, however, has his sights set beyond Big East championships.

"We're still sitting at the table,'' Thompson said. "The dice is still in someone's hand. So we can't pick ourselves up and start to feel good right now. We've got to keep playing."

Wallace came into the Hoyas' first meeting with Villanova struggling, averaging just 9.1 points through 22 games. But the senior guard scored 15 against the Wildcats, and is scoring 14.0 points per game in his last seven, shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range.

Inside, Villanova will have to deal with the 7-foot-2 Hibbert, who's averaging 15.8 points and 4.0 blocks in Georgetown's last five games and had 13 against the Wildcats previously.

Villanova's effectiveness typically revolves around the play of Reynolds. The sophomore scored 22 points on Wednesday against Syracuse, and a game-high 24 against Georgetown last month.

To beat the Hoyas this time around, the Wildcats will likely need a better shooting performance than they delivered in their first meeting. Villanova shot just 24.6 percent in that game, including a brutal 13.0 percent in the second half.

The Wildcats shot 48.2 percent on Wednesday against Syracuse, a season high against Big East teams.

Villanova has never beaten Georgetown in four tries in the Big East tournament.

The winner of this game will play either No. 15 Connecticut or West Virginia in the semifinals Friday.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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