Villanova’s 66-53 win over St. John’s in the second round of the Big East tournament Wednesday likely gives the Big East eight teams in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats were No. 3 in the Breitbart Middle 20, the group of teams fighting for the last seven to nine spots in the tournament. Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston, the only two Wildcats in among the Top 400 players in the country according to Value Add, probably delivered the bid.
While the Big Ten has been the best conference this year, the Big East is clearly No. 2. If UConn were not on a NCAA academic probation, the Big East likely would have landed nine of their 15 teams in the NCAA tournament in their final year before realignment.
Pinkston’s 12 points and nine rebounds and Yarou’s took only nine shots but scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds and three steals. Villanova will be heavy underdogs against Louisville Thursday, but they likely needed only today’s win to go along with three victories against top five teams in a season that started with an embarrassing loss to Columbia.
Yarou has NBA potential, but has been a solid but not spectular producer as the 345th best player in the country out of 4000. Pinkston has been slightly better as the 312th best player, but the team has had balanced production from three other players to put together an apparent NCAA team.
The win is more good news for the Catholic 7, which will retain the Big East name and the Madison Square Garden venue for next year’s tournament. Villanova, Georgetown and Marquette were viewed as the three big Catholic, basketball-only schools, and Villanova had the most recent Final Four appearance of the three. However, when the Catholic 7 break was announced Villanova appeared on their way to a second straight year without a bid after seven straight years in the tournament.