Big East NCAA Tournament Capsules: Villanova WildcatsPosted by mlemaire on March 22nd, 2013
The Wildcats earned an at-large bid to the Big Dance despite getting blown out in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament by the eventual champion Louisville. They earned their at-large bid largely on the back of their home wins over the three best teams in the conference at their road win at Connecticut but still had to sweat out Selection Sunday thanks to some terrible losses early in the season to Columbia and Alabama.
Record: 20-13 (10-8 Big East)
Second-Round Matchup: vs. North Carolina in Kansas City
Key Player: The team’s best offensive player and focal point on that end of the floor is redshirt sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston and when Pinkston is focused and engaged in the game, the Wildcats can be a dangerous team on the offensive end. Pinkston led the team in scoring (13.1 PPG) despite playing just 25.9 minutes per game and when he is staying within the offense, attacking the rim, and using his size and strength to get to the free-throw line, he can be difficult to stop. However, when he is forcing tough shots and stalking the perimeter rather than mixing it up down low, he can disappear for long stretches, something the Wildcats can ill-afford if they want to keep pace with North Carolina’s quick-strike offense.
Key Stat: It’s not exactly revolutionary information for those who have watched the Wildcats play this season, but opposing teams have shot 36.8 percent from behind the three-point arc against Villanova this season, which puts them at 298th in the country in that department. The Tar Heels aren’t a prolific three-point shooting team, but guys like Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston can stroke it when they get hot. If the Wildcats want to have some success in the tournament this year, they will need to commit to defending like crazy on the perimeter and challenging shooters on every possession. If they do that, their defense is actually pretty good.
Best-Case Scenario: Mouphtaou Yarou and Pinskton establish themselves inside early against the Tar Heels and the Wildcats play sound transition and perimeter defense to beat a young North Carolina team. Then, against very long odds, they catch Kansas napping in the second round and ride some sweet shooting and gritty defense into the Sweet 16 where the region will be up-for-grabs no matter which teams are left.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Wildcats come out uninspired against the Tar Heels, they let North Carolina get out in transition early and often, and they let Hairston and Bullock and company rain away from downtown en route to an ignominious first-round exit that leaves ‘Nova fans already looking ahead to next season.