The last time Villanova had a squad that was built to win the entire NCAA bucket of balls, legendary Rollie Massimino was Philly’s Father and La Toya Jackson was still attempting to make pop hits like her legendary brother and sister.
Around 1984-85, La Toya had what was her most successful single, “Heart Don’t Lie”. The single reached #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and finally took her from the Jackson Family bench to her brief moment in the sun as a legit starting artist. The “least talented” Jackson had proved her pedigree.
“Hart Don’t Lie Part 2” features a hit performance by another one of March manias unsuspected heroes – Villanova Wildcats sub Josh Hart. The sophomore went on a run that propelled Villanova to the Big East tournament crown over Big East new jack Xavier Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Hart led the tournament with 53 points and made a ridiculous 21 of 29 shots (72 percent).
His flame game also comes with a video of highlights that transformed The Big East Sixth Man of the Year into Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Hart dropped 20 against Marquette to set the tourney off. Then he banged last year’s Big East Champ Providence in the head for 18 numbers in a semifinals squeaker. The ball don’t lie and neither does Hart, as the homie sliced Xavier’s tournament ch’ip hopes with 15 more efficient points to give Nova’ coach Jay Wright his first BE tourney title in his 14 year career at the university. It was also the program’s second Big East Tournament title, the first coming in 1995.
“I attribute that success to my teammates, “Hart said in a post game interview. They give me all the confidence and coaches have trust in me.”
One thing is certain. Hart won’t be a sixth man next year for Villanova and if he continues to shoot 70 percent in tourney games or even the 46 percent clip he shot treys at during the regular season, he could become a game-changing player in the NCAA Tournament which has already been anointed as nothing more than a formality in the coronation of
Kentucky is considered unbeatable and its 33-0 record backs that up like a Mac Truck. Villanova, ranked No. 4, is now 32-2. They aren’t undefeated, but they are riding a 15-game winning streak of their own and the Wildcats have a combination of talented and versatile players, who do everything from the flashy merk to the dirty work.
The advantage they do hold over Kentucky is the crop of supreme leadership in selfless studs like JayVaughn Pinkston from BK, who shared his top dawg role this season with redshirt junior Dylan Ennis (16 points, six rebounds and three assists,) and fellow senior Darrun Hilliard, Villanova’s leading scorer. Junior Ryan Arcidiacono (pronounced ARCH-ee-dee-ah-ko-no) was also a significant cog in the Villanova machine and exemplified the will of the Wildcats as he played the semifinals and finals with jacked up ribs.
With the losses by Duke and Virginia on Friday in the ACC Tournament, Villanova, who hadn’t reached the Big East tourney semifinals since 2009, will probably be one of four No. 1 seeds entering the NCAA tournament.
If any team can knock off Kentucky, it’s this upperclassmen–laden band of gritty bandits and one of the last remaining “original” Big East schools with a historic pedigree that still rings bells in every city from Chi-town to Allentown. The 32 wins also match the most ever by a Philly school. Temple won 32 in both 1987 and 1988 with Mark “Shakin’, Bakin” Macon orchestrating awesomeness.
Ironically, it’s been exactly 30 years since Villanova did the impossible and defeated Patrick Ewing’s mighty Hoyas to win the school’s only NCAA championship. In fact, the difference in that game was Villanova sub Harold Jensen having one night of Larry Bird magic and stroking a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. Saturday night’s Big East Championship is just the tip of March Madness.
Nova’ has a formidable journey ahead before they even contemplate upsetting John Calipari’s “Murder Babies Crew,” but conference tournaments have often given us a glimpse into the underlying story lines and potential Cinderella teams that could emerge during the NCAA Tournament. It happens every season.
A Top 5 ranking doesn’t exactly qualify the Wildcats as Cinderella material, but against a Kentucky squad that’s eventually sending almost a full team of ballers to the NBA, everybody is considered an extreme underdog.
“We are not Kentucky with all of their depth but we could beat them,” said Wright. “We could also lose to a 15 or 16-seed if we don’t play right. That’s just who we are.”
“We’re going to build on one win after the other and just see what happens,” Hart added.
Why not Nova? The Hart Don’t Lie.