Game Preview

For the first time in five years, Villanova will not open the Big East Tournament as the No. 1 seed.

The Wildcats finished 14-4 in the conference and finished with the second seed. Xavier earned the top seed following a 15-3 mark in conference play.

Villanova (27-4) received a double bye and will open the quarterfinal round against No. 7 seed Marquette on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Marquette (19-12) finished 9-9 in the Big East during the regular season and squeaked past 10th-seeded DePaul 72-69 on Wednesday. Andrew Rowsey led the Golden Eagles with 25 points while Sam Hauser added 16.

"Survive and advance," Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski told FS1 in a postgame interview. "I thought we got really tight."

The next step in the quarterfinal round will be much tougher against Villanova.

"We've got a lot of guys who don't have a lot of tournament experience," Wojciechowski said. "Now we know what it's like."

Villanova defeated Marquette 100-90 Jan. 6 at the Wells Fargo Center and then pulled off the sweep with an 85-82 win Jan. 26 in Milwaukee.

Villanova was the top seed in the Big East tournament each of the last four seasons. In their regular-season finale, the Wildcats crushed Georgetown 97-73.

"We're making good progress," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "We really shared the ball well to get good shots. I'd like to see us get to the foul line a bit more but I feel good about where we're going. I know it doesn't look great right now but I feel good about the direction we're going in."

With a win in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, Wright will secure his 414th career victory on the Main Line. The milestone win would surpass Alexander Severance, who compiled 413 victories from 1936-61.

"It's really nice," Wright said of tying the mark with the win over the Hoyas. "I'm proud of it and I'm sure, like everything else, I'll look back on it at the end of the season and really appreciate it. But for now, it's a next game mentality. For me, it's more of the thrill in being the coach at Villanova and being mentioned among some of the best coaches in this program's history."

Villanova junior guard Jalen Brunson was selected as the National Player of the Year by USA Today and Brunson and Mikal Bridges were also named to the All-Big East First Team.

Brunson averaged 19.0 points and 4.8 assists per game this season and ranked fifth in the conference in field goal shooting at 53 percent. Brunson also led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio with an impressive plus 2.9.

Bridges, meanwhile, became one of the most improved players in the country after averaging 17.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

In addition, guard Donte DiVincenzo was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year.

DiVincenzo ranked third on the team in scoring (13.8), fourth in rebounding (4.6) 10th in assist to-turnover ratio (plus 1.8). DiVincenzo scored a career-high 30 points in an 86-75 win at Butler on Feb. 10.

The Wildcats dropped three of their final eight games but amazingly they still haven't lost consecutive games in five seasons.

"We want to teach our guys how to play basketball, not how to run plays," Wright said. "We just try to teach our guys how to play the game and react to different situations. Sometimes it takes us a while to get into a game and realize what the team is doing but once our guys got comfortable we are able to mix it up and share the ball."

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