Time to Pay Attention to this Wildcat

Kris Jenkins hit the biggest shot in Villanova history, a three-pointer at the buzzer that beat North Carolina in the 2016 NCAA Championship Game.

Josh Hart, the Big East Player of the Year, has had one of Nova’s most accomplished careers, one of just two Wildcats with 1,800 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals.

Jalen Brunson, named to the Bob Cousy Watch List as a sophomore, is one of the top recruits ever signed by coach Jay Wright.

So, of course, let’s talk about Donte DiVincenzo.

‘Who?’ you ask. Time to know the name.

In fact, it’s time for DiVincenzo to get a nickname. Double D is too easy. Let’s go with Double Ought. Because any kid that can shoot the ball the way DiVincenzo did Thursday afternoon at The Garden clearly is full of buckshot hubris.

DiVincenzo fired the Wildcats into Friday’s semifinal game against Seton Hall by making 5-of-6 threes (7-of-8 overall from the field) and scoring a career-high 25 points as the Wildcats obliterated a young St. John’s squad, 108-67, in the Big East Conference Tournament.

“I like it here,’’ said DiVincenzo, who set his previous career-high with 19 points at The Garden when Nova beat St. John’s, 70-57, on Jan. 14. “I don’t know what it is.’’

Forget what it is.

Outside of the Main Line, most college basketball fans didn’t know who DiVincenzo is until he helped Villanova set school Big East Conference Tournament records for most points and largest margin of victory. 

The Wildcats (29-3) now have exactly what they’ve yearned for – a rematch against Seton Hall. The Pirates upset the Wildcats, 69-67, in last season’s league championship game and not even winning the national title could assuage that hurt. The Hall (21-10) pulled away from Marquette for an 82-76 win.

Nova and Hall will tipoff at 6:30 PM Friday night at the World’s Most Famous Arena in what figures to be a good old-fashioned Big East rock fight. Nova won both regular season meetings with The Hall, 76-46 and 92-70. 

“I’m happy to play anybody,’’ said power forward Angel Delgado. “I’m always happy, I tell the coach and the guys, ‘I’m playing ball to have fun.’ That’s what I’m doing right now. We can play an NBA team, I don’t care.’’

He might feel differently after facing Villanova.

Xavier, despite losing both regular-season games to Butler, and having lost star point guard Edmond Sumner to a season-ending knee injury in late January, upset the No.2-seed Bulldogs, 62-57. The Musketeers will face Creighton, a 70-58 winner over Providence.

STAT OF THE DAY:  Villanova served noticed that it is primed to play its best basketball of the season, just as it did last season. The Wildcats made 15-of-29 3s, 21-of-25 free throws and only committed seven personal fouls (none in the first half) and seven turnovers for the game.

STAT OF THE DAY II: Seton Hall, the worst free-throw shooting team in the conference and 342nd nationally, made 22-of-23 free throws (95.7-percent). Go figure.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: From the school of, ‘Anything you can do bad, we can do worse,’ we bring you this from Providence’s loss to Creighton. The Blue Jays shot 4-of-20 on 3’s. The Friars were 4-of-21.

RED STORM NEMESIS: DiVincenzo set his first career-high with 19 points against St. John’s. He topped that by scoring 20 against the Johnnies on Feb. 4. He topped that with Thursday’s 25-point effort. No word as to whether or not the Johnnies will petition the Big East to have DiVincenzo barred from next season’s game.

PLAYER OF DAY: Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado. Mr. Double-Double came up one assist shy of his first career triple-double. Delgado, who entered conference tournament play tied with Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan with 25 double-doubles, posted his 26th with 12 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard – whose team lost its two regular-season games against Villanova by an average of 26 points – on having to face Nova after advancing to the semifinals. “It’s like waking up on Christmas. You’re all excited, you go down, you open up the present and you’ve got a bunch of coal,’’ said Willard. “No, they’re a fantastic team. They really are.’’

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: Xavier coach Chris Mack was asked if he was relieved after his Musketeers upset Butler, 62-57. The win almost surely puts the X-Men in the NCAA Tournament.  “They understand what’s at stake,’’ Mack said. “I don’t know how you can’t [in] 2017. Everywhere we go guys have their phones up to their noses.’’ Nice visual.