Wildcats Pound Leopards into Extinction

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

There was plenty for Will D. Cat to clap about in Round One.

Villanova 93, Lafayette 52 – Box Score

Thursday was arguably the craziest day in college basketball history, marking the first time ever there were 5 1-point finishes in a single day of the NCAA tournament. Brackets were busted, legends were made, and a coach fell off a stool watching his son hit a ridiculous game-winning shot.

However, there was no trace of drama in Villanova’s opening round game against Lafayette. Not only did the Wildcats record the largest victory of the tournament so far (Kentucky wasn’t even as merciless), but they had one of their most dominating romps in the history of the program. 

As Charles Barkley aptly put it in the studio yesterday, the Wildcats are the Atlanta Hawks of the NCAA. There isn’t one superstar on the team, just a bunch of good players flawlessly executing a game plan and doing whatever needs to be done to win ball games. That balance was on full display once again against the Leopards, as all 5 starters finished in double figures and all 8 players who received significant minutes scored at least 7 points. As a team, the Wildcats shot an absurd 63.2% from the field, a season-high.

You could name any facet of the game and Villanova simply commanded complete control of it.

Getting out in transition? Villanova held a 16-2 advantage in fast break points.

Interior play? The Wildcats’ starting frontcourt of Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston combined to shoot 9-10 for 26 points and 15 rebounds. Villanova won the points in the paint battle 42-24.

Play on the perimeter? As a team, the Cats shot 11-22 from behind the arc. Ryan Arcidiacono (3-4) and Dylan Ennis (3-6) led the way. Defensively, Nova held the 2nd-best 3-point shooting team in the nation (percentage-wise) to just a 4-18 mark (22.2%) from behind the arc.

Essentially, Jay Wright’s group answered every question about their readiness to make a deep run in this NCAA tournament. They’ll play next at 7:10pm Saturday night against NC State, who won on a buzzer beater against LSU. Given how hard is it to refocus after such an emotional high, but more importantly, how well Villanova is playing right now up and down the roster, I fully expect the Cats to be making the trip to Syracuse next weekend.

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