Villanova opens Big East tourney against Seton Hall

New York, NY ( - The Big East Tournament quarterfinal round opens up with a contest pitting the eighth-seeded Seton Hall Pirates against the top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Villanova Wildcats at Madison Square Garden.

The winner of this contest will take on either St. John's or Providence in the semifinal round of the tournament on Friday.

Seton Hall advanced through the first round of the Big East Tournament by narrowly defeating ninth-seeded Butler, 51-50. Thanks to the win, the Pirates have now won two of their last three games.

Villanova torched both Big East and non-conference competition this season. The Wildcats won their first 11 games of the season, and finished on a strong note as well with six straight wins over conference opponents. Villanova took down Georgetown, 77-59, in the team's season finale on Saturday.

Villanova leads by a comfortable margin in the all-time season series between the two programs, 66-38. Villanova, which cruised through conference play on the year, dominated both meetings with Seton Hall in the regular season.

Center Eugene Teague scored all of Seton Hall's points over the final 9:30 of the Pirates' contest with Butler in the first round of the tournament. Seton Hall led Butler by a single point at the end of the first half Wednesday night, and that was all it would take to hold up for the win. Teague tallied a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Brian Oliver just missed out on one with 10 points and nine boards. Fuquan Edwin scored 10 points of his own to round out the Pirates' double-digit scorers in the contest.

Edwin came into Wednesday night's contest as Seton Hall's leading scorer on the season, averaging 14.7 ppg. His 10 points fell below his average, but Edwin added two more steals to his team-leading 74 on the year. Sterling Gibbs, who didn't score a single point Wednesday night in the loss, came into the Big East first round as the team's second-leading scorer at 13.7 ppg. Teague surpassed his season average of 10.8 ppg and 7.7 rpg averages with his first-round performance.

No. 3 Villanova took down Georgetown with ease on Saturday, winning their 19th game of the season by double digits. The Wildcats jumped ahead of the Hoyas at the end of the first half, 42-29, and never looked back. Darrun Hilliard scored 19 points with a team-high five assists to lead the team, while JayVaughn Pinkston contributed 13 points with a team-best seven rebounds. James Bell and Ryan Arcidiacono each tallied 11 points in the win, which was rounded out by Kris Jenkins' 10-point effort. The Wildcats shot 50.9 percent from the floor in the contest.

Bell, Hilliard and Pinkston are three dominant forces for Villanova, and have kept up their production for 31 games this season. Bell leads the team with 14.9 ppg, followed closely by Hilliard's 14.4 ppg and Pinkston's 14.3 ppg. Villanova as a team is scoring 79 ppg, and prides itself as a top-notch scoring defense, allowing just 66.7 points per outing for opposing teams. Pinkston's 6.1 rpg average leads the team, while Arcidiacono's 109 assists on the year are a Wildcats best. Daniel Ochefu tops the squad with 47 blocked shots, adding 6 rpg to his resume.