UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The championship game of the 2K Sports Empire Classic pits two AP Top 25 teams together when No. 3 Villanova and No. 18 No. 18 Arizona State take the court at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Both teams secured a place in the title game on Thanksgiving night with hard fought victories over Rhode Island and Boston College, respectively.
In Wednesday night’s opener, Villanova battled for a 76-67 win against Boston College to advance to the championship game of a November early season event for the ninth straight campaign on Thanksgiving night.
Arizona State also needed to produce a very great effort to achieve its 94-88 victory over o. 18 Rhode Island, setting up what many had already predicted prior to the games tipping off on Wednesday.
The 2K Sports Empire Classic title game will be the second of the evening session and will follow the consolation matchup between the Eagles and the Ram at Mohegan Sun Arena, which starts at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The Villanova and Arizona State encounter is slated to go off at 9:30 p.m. with ESPN will carry the game nationally and streaming it live on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN App. Jon Sciambi and Jay Bilas will make the call on ESPN, while the Villanova’s radio flagship station, 95.7 Ben FM also provide live action.
In their semi-final matchup Wednesday, the Wildcats (1-0) had to come from behind to beat Boston College after trailing by as many as nine points in the second half. Sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the way for Villanova with 18 points, 10 rebounds and two rebounds.
Arizona State was led by Remy Martin, who posted 26 points and freshman Marcus Bagley who added 16 as the Sun Devils recovered from blowing a 16-point lead with a the fought back win over Rhode Island.
The title game is expected to provide some excitement for basketball fans, and Villanova coach Jay Wright is expecting a good game.
“I would assume Arizona State will take the ball at us,” the Wildcats said. “They may have noticed that we struggled guarding those guards off the dribble and they have exceptional guards.
“I think they have great team quickness, similar to Boston College. They showed a lot of grit hanging in there to pull that game out last night. That’s going to be a really tough matchup.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the organizers of this year’s 2K Sports Empire Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project to move event from its regular site in New York to become part of “Bubbleville.”