Rushed Reactions: #1 Villanova 95, #1 Kansas 79

Posted by rtmsf on April 1st, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish.

Three Key Takeaways.

Villanova Advances to the Title Game for the Second Time in Three Years (USA Today Images)

  1. Three-llanova. It was 9-2 before most people had even started their mid-session hot dog. 14-4 by the first TV timeout. 22-4 seven minutes into the game. And everyone in the building, including Kansas head coach Bill Self, knew it was over. Villanova was simply too good to blow an 18-point lead, even if 80 percent of the game was still to come. At that point in the game, Villanova had already nailed six threes, but the Wildcats were far from done. Over the course of the next 13 minutes, Villanova dropped another seven threes, totaling a Final Four record-tying 13 in the first half alone. The Wildcats did so on 26 attempts (50%), effectively eschewing its patented drive game in favor of a number of long-range heat checks that dropped. Furthermore, Villanova only attempted seven two-point field goals for the half and took zero foul shots. All of this goes to show that Jay Wright‘s team was absolutely scorching, feeling it and playing to their hot hands. It was a first half performance for the ages and Kansas never really had a chance after the opening few minutes. Going into the break down 15 points, the Jayhawks never saw a single-figure deficit again.
  2. Villanova is on the Cusp of Greatness. Win a single National Championship at any school in America and you drink for free in the area for the rest of your life. But the truth is that there have been a number of one-hit wonder championship teams that are generally forgotten beyond their localities. If Villanova cuts down the nets on Monday night in San Antonio, however, Wright’s program will ascend to greatness. Three-year runs that include a trio of 30-win seasons and two banners don’t exactly grow on trees. In fact, only Kentucky from 1996-98 can make that claim in the modern era. For a program that doesn’t pile up all of the elite recruits but rather cultivates and grows the ones it gets, this run is nothing short of astonishing. There is still another game to be played, of course, and Michigan is a worthy and capable opponent, but all signs point to Villanova achieving something that perhaps only Wright and his closest supporters saw coming three years ago.
  3. Kansas Did Its Job For America. Bill Self alluded to this after the game, but given the number of issues that Kansas has faced this season — from losing Billy Preston to running a four-guard set — the Jayhawks have nothing of which to be ashamed. Beating a loaded Duke team in overtime of the Elite Eight is what this team will be remembered for, and even though the Kansas program plays for banners, it will be a very nice memory for the Jayhawks and the rest of America for years to come. We made light of Self having his “least impressive team” ever — which is still hogwash, but it certainly had more weaknesses than most of his teams over the last decade in Lawrence. That said, Kansas will continue to recruit great players; Self will continue to coach ’em up; and Kansas will continue to get to Final Fours. Eventually he’s going to win another one of these tournaments.

Player of the Game. Eric Paschall, Villanova. Take your pick on the Villanova roster for this award, but it’s yours when you drop 24 points in 29 minutes with only one missed shot on the entire evening. Paschall is one of the lesser-known players among the Wildcats’ regulars but he was All-American level tonight, draining a couple of threes for eight points in the first half and effectively ensuring Kansas would not make a run with 16 more points in the second stanza.

Quotable.

  • “I just think we did a good job being ready to catch and shoot.” — Jalen Brunson, referring to his team’s scorching shooting night.
  • “In ’09, we didn’t get a practice on Thursday. […] By Saturday [w/ three practices] you start to get comfortable.” — Jay Wright, on a question about his team’s hot shooting in domes.
  • “It’s our best offensive team. We’ve had some good ones. Our challenge has been that we were so good that we got lazy defensively earlier in the year.” — Wright, on how this team compares to others offensively.
  • “These last four years have been a blessing, and I just got really emotional.” — Devonte’ Graham, referring to his feelings walking off the floor in a Kansas uniform for the last time.
  • “When we got spread out, our game plan went to crap. […] Credit to them, they were the superior team.” — Bill Self, referring to what happened to his team defensively tonight.
  • “It felt like today it just kinda caught up to us.” — Self, referring to a confluence of factors that Kansas had played through to get to this year’s Final Four.

Sights and Sounds. Kansas and Villanova brought by far the most fans to San Antonio this weekend, but it was difficult to hear that in the building after the Wildcats salted the game away so early. Villanova fans spent most of the game in surreal disbelief, so it was hard for them to get too fired up about the performance of their team.

What’s Next. Villanova moves on to its second National Championship game appearance in the last three seasons, where it will face #3 Michigan on Monday night. The statistical models all point to the Wildcats coming into that game as a 5-7 point favorite. If they shoot the ball as well as tonight, Jay Wright’s team might be cutting down the Alamodome nets at halftime.

rtmsf (3988 Posts)


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