Villanova March Madness Recap: Cuck City
[Editor’s Note: You know, I know, my bosses DEFINITELY know that I’m not the biggest Nova guy in the world. Sure, I’m going to root for anything Philly-centric on a national stage, especially anyone in the Big-5. But I’m definitely not wild for the cats. You guys deserve coverage with substance rather than an outsider hopping on bandwagon. So I give you Con (@ConsDeal)- Your Nova helper for the Madness. Godspeed.]
I feel sick. Sicker than I felt after Michael Scott left the Office, and way sicker than Portnoy after he found out his 17-year-old girlfriend cheated on him with an instructor from Soul Cylcle. It was cuck city and I was just living in it.
Villanova battled Wisconsin in the 2nd round of the big dance this past Saturday with a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen on the line. Despite having an up and down regular season, the Badgers are known to play well in the tournament and have made the Sweet Sixteen each of the last 3 years (now 4). This Wisconsin team featured Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, who were two seniors that have a ton of experience in March and had already made a Final Four run in 2014. The Wildcats were favored by 5.5 points and I expected the Badgers to cover in what would be a tight game.
I had a bad feeling about this game from the beginning. Wisconsin was seeded way too low as an 8 seed and it was almost unfair that ‘Nova had to deal with them in the 2nd round. The committee got that one blatantly wrong and it ended up biting ‘Nova in the ass.
The last blog left off with me saying that if ‘Nova came out flat they were in trouble. Well, they started off down 9-3 with 3 turnovers in the opening 4:30 into the game. Not ideal whatsoever. Koenig and Hayes were doing as they pleased, and for the 2nd straight game Kris Jenkins was pressing to get anything going. The first half ended with Nova down 27-31 and they were lucky to only be down by 4. They shot an abysmal 29.6% from the floor compared to Wisconsin who was shooting 54%. ‘Nova was getting great looks and beating Wisconsin defenders regularly, but they had trouble knocking down shots and getting anything going. If Wisconsin didn’t have 8 turnovers in the first half their lead easily could’ve been in the double digits. Frustrating wasn’t even the word to describe it.
I wasn’t worried because Villanova is more of a second half team, and I was confident that their shots would fall in the 2nd half. ‘Nova started the half in the right direction. They were finally hitting shots which allowed them to use their half court trap on defense and increase the pace of the game. Koenig and Ethan Happ were in foul trouble which allowed the Wildcats to go on a run and take their 1st lead of the half 39-37 at the 13:30 mark. Although Koenig and Happ were on the bench, Nigel Hayes kept the Badgers in the game by bullying ‘Nova defenders on physical drives to the basket.
With 5:31 left in the game Villanova was up 57-50 after a HUGE Donte Divencenzo pull up 3. At this point Bronson Koenig just came back into the game with 4 fouls and made an instant impact. After he came in the lead was immediately slashed to 3, and then cut again after he tied the game up on a corner 3. 7-0 run just like that and we had a tie ballgame.
With two minutes left to play the Badgers were on a 12-2 run and were leading 62-59. Villanova had gone cold from the floor and hadn’t hit a FG in the past 3 minutes. With 90 seconds to play Jalen Brunson brought the game to within 1, and then the Cats forced a turnover on the defensive end which led to free throws from Divencenzo who went 1/2 from the line.
We had a tie game within the 30 second mark, and I was about to have an aneurism as Nigel Hayes bullied his way into the lane yet again. He pulled a classic “Michael Jordan fake spin-back,” which were his words, not mine, but it worked. Wisco was up 2 with 11.4 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession Josh Hart drove to the basket but lost the ball in the paint on his way to the bucket. It was heartbreaking, and I wanted to chuck a puppy.
Nova lost 65-62 after free throws and the Wildcats tournament run was over. Saturday’s performance was very underwhelming to say the least. ‘Nova shot 1/5 from 3 in the 2nd half, gave up a 15-5 run in the last 5 minutes of the game, and Kris Jenkins had another awful outing going 2-9 from the field. This was Villanova’s game to lose, and they ultimately allowed Wisconsin steal the game in the closing minutes. Villanova played tired basketball and didn’t have the usual spring in their step that they had all season long. Coming into this game, Wisconsin was ranked 325th in the country in free throw percentage and Villanova was 1st. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when the Badgers went 7-16 from the line, but I was shocked that ‘Nova went 15-21. A couple more of those fall and this is a different blog. I am very upset that Villanova’s tournament run is over. It looked like they had a solid chance of making a run, but they got a terrible draw in the 2nd round and faced an under seeded Wisconsin team. I am looking forward to next year’s Villanova team that will feature 6 returning players and what looks like to be a future star in Donte Divencenzo.
I enjoyed covering ‘Nova for Barstool and I hope it was the same experience for all of you. I got cucked by an early exit from the #1 overall seed in March Madness, but this was a great experience and I got to write for my favorite website. Not too shabby. Hopefully this won’t be the last time you’re hearing from me. Viva, and go Cats.
Follow me on Twitter @Consdeal and on Instagram @connorbresnan