Villanova’s “Shaky” 1st Round Matchup: Top Teams Finish Strong
[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 their hopeful championship run. Godspeed.]
This tournament is called March Madness for a reason, and I almost went mad watching this game. The #1 overall seed Villanova Wildcats danced with the #16 seed Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers in a first round matchup in the East Region. The spread was at -25 in Nova’s favor and it looked like they would cover with ease. I thought it was going to be a bloodbath and the Cats were going to win by 40. I was half right.
For ‘Nova, the opening minutes went like this. 1st minute no basket. 2nd minute no basket. 3rd minute no basket. 4th minute no basket. 5TH MINUTE NO BASKET AND 0/8 FROM THE FIELD. It took Nova 6 minutes and 10 seconds to put one in the net! It was insanely frustrating to watch and it made me want to kick babies. Whatever. Slow start for Villanova.
I wasn’t worried because because prior to this game #1 seeds were 129-0 vs. #16 seeds all time in the tournament. Today was not the day for the Mountaineers to make history. Villanova FINALLY took their first lead of the game with 1:21 left in the first when they were up 26-25. The whistle blew and the first half ended. 30-29 ‘Nova was up going into half, and I knew Jay Wright would not let this shit fly in the second half. It was embarrassing. The Cats were playing down to a #16 seed and were playing sloppier than a girl on spring break in Cancun. Yikes. The Cats shot 1-9 from 3pt. range, were letting Mount St. Mary’s control the tempo of the game, and both Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson had two fouls. Not an ideal start to say the least, but they could only go up from there.
The 2nd half was a completely different story. The Wildcats tightened up their defense, dominated the tempo of the game, and started to hit 3 pointers. Things changed in a hurry, and Villanova found themselves up 76-56 when the final buzzer sounded. The Cats shot 5-8 from 3pt range in the 2nd half and stepped up their defense when it counted.
There were a lot of takeaways from this game that were good and bad. The bad was that if they were playing a 10 seed or lower, this blog would be very very different. I don’t want to say Villanova was lucky they played a #16 seed because they earned it by playing well in the regular season, but if they pull this horse shit next round they’re toast. Also, Kris Jenkins, the hero from last year’s March Madness, went a cold 2-13 from the field and 0-6 from 3pt. land. If ‘Nova wants to make a deep run this year they need to get more production from Jenkins. The good was that ‘Nova made the adjustments they needed to make to win. The first half of this game needs to be forgotten and never spoken about again, but the second half was what we expect from the #1 overall seed in March Madness. Jenkins may have played horrendously, but other players picked up his slack. 5 Wildcats finished in double figures, including Donte DiVencenzo who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Overall Villanova has nothing to worry about. I think there were some first round jitters coming from a team with high expectations, and we should see the ‘Nova team we saw in the 2nd half throughout the remainder of the tournament. Nonetheless, Villanova needs to be careful when they take on Wisconsin in the 2nd round. The Badgers have had an up and down year, but if ‘Nova comes out flat like they did in the first half of this game they are cooked. However, I do expect the Wildcats to beat the Badgers in a close game, and I am predicting a final score of 75-68. Expect Jenkins to have a bounce back performance and Villanova to get back on track for a title run. Yesterday was just the start of the madness and there is plenty more to come. Go Cats.
PS I hope @barstoolbigcat cries when he sees his team lose next round #cuckSZN
Follow me on Twitter @ConsDeal