Rushed Reactions: #2 Villanova 87, #7 Iowa 68

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 20th, 2016

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

Villlanova's Offense Carved Up Iowa Today (USA Today Images)

Villlanova’s Offense Carved Up Iowa Today (USA Today Images)

  1. This isn’t the same Villanova team. The Wildcats look ready and determined to continue their NCAA Tournament run. Having now relieved the pressure of getting to the NCAA’s second weekend for the first time since 2009, Villanova removes that distraction and can focus completely on getting ready for Miami next week in Louisville. Jay Wright’s group has all the intangibles: chemistry, leadership and momentum. While its style of play is similar to last year’s group, this Villanova team is more talented and versatile. The three-point shot remains a key part of its attack, but added experience and an ability to get to the rim make this team better and more capable of advancing.
  2. Villanova doesn’t get enough credit for its defense. The Wildcats have ranked among the nation’s best defensive teams over the last four years but the story has repeatedly been about coming up short in the postseason. With that monkey now off their back, maybe they will have some attention paid to their consistently elite defense. It was on full display in the first half today as Iowa was completely shut off from the basket. The Hawkeyes shot just 40 percent from the floor overall and 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from two-point range in a game that was decided by halftime. Villanova has shut down opponents all year (seventh in defensive efficiency) and that’s what will determine how far it advances.
  3. Shout out to Nicholas Baer. The Iowa walk-on had 15 points off the bench for Fran McCaffery’s team, the lone bright spot for the Hawkeyes on an otherwise rotten day. Baer saw 25 minutes of action, his second-highest total of the entire season. Even in a blowout loss, this had to be nice for Iowa fans. Baer is a skilled forward who will no doubt be offered a scholarship, and McCaffery has indicated as much already this season.

Star of the Game: Kris Jenkins, Villanova. “Big Smooth” came to play today. Jenkins scored 15 points, including 12 in the first half when the game was decided, and totaled six assists. Jenkins is a matchup nightmare because of his ability to make threes while also using his size and strength to penetrate and get to the rim. He has carried Villanova through February and March with this being his 11th-consecutive double figure scoring game against some of Villanova’s toughest opponents.


  • Jay Wright, on his senior class getting to the Sweet Sixteen: “I really didn’t want them to go down as the winningest class in Villanova history, but they didn’t get to the second weekend.”
  • Wright again, on his team’s mindset: “We knew we could have lost this game. No one was afraid of that outcome.”
  • More Wright, on his team’s stellar first half of play: “We haven’t played a first half like that in a long time.”

What’s Next: Villanova advances to Thursday’s regional semifinal in Louisville in what should be a fantastic game against #3 seed Miami. Iowa heads home having lost in the Round of 32 for the second consecutive season.

Brian Otskey (269 Posts)

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