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Villanova Disputes the Theory of...

Villanova Disputes the Theory of... Villanova Disputes the Theory of Parity in College Basketball

All year we heard how there was so much parity in college basketball and that this year’s tournament was more up for grabs than ever.

Those comments seemed to gain some credibility when two No. 1 seeds Virginia and Xavier failed to reach the Sweet 16. Virginia also became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed since the tournament’s expansion in 1985 when the Cavaliers fell to University of Maryland Baltimore County, 74-54.

With that as a backdrop, this tournament really wasn’t up for grabs. Villanova, the top seed in the East, proved to be dominant as the Wildcats won their second NCAA title in three years.

Villanova finished matters with an impressive 79-62 win over Michigan.

The Wildcats were simply too deep for everybody in this year’s tournament. Villanova became the fourth team since the 1985 expansion to win every game by double digits.

Even more than the 2016 Villanova national champion, this team had more depth. That was displayed against Michigan when redshirt sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to have a game for the ages.

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DiVincenzo scored 31 points, the most off the bench by a player in a national title game. He shot 10 of 15 from the field, and 5 of 7 from three-point range.

All season long Villanova coach Jay Wright has referred to DiVincenzo as a “sixth starter” and never was that more true than in the title game. Wright played the hot hand. DiVincenzo played a team-high 37 minutes. He also contributed five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

This was the fourth time in the six tournament games that DiVincenzo scored in double figures. Before the final, his best scoring performance this postseason was 18 in a second round win over Alabama.

Also in the champion win, projected NBA lottery pick Mikal Bridges had 19 points, an effort that was overshadowed by DiVincenzo. He shot 3 for 7 from three point range.

DiVincenzo and Bridges combined for 50 of the 79 points. Many of the other players had off-nights on the offensive end, but Villanova was able to withstand it. In addition, while DiVincenzo and Bridges shot a combined 8 for 14 from beyond the arc, the rest of the team was just 2 for 13 from deep range and it didn’t matter.

An underrated aspect of Villanova’s game was its defense. Sure, the Wildcats were the highest scoring team in the country, but they also were able to put the clamps on teams when needed.

This was such a deep team that Villanova seemed to have different heroes each night.

In the Wildcats 95-79 semifinal win over Kansas, which was Villanova’s most impressive victory of the tournament, redshirt junior Eric Paschall had 24 points in 29 minutes, shooting 10 for 11 from the field, while point guard and consensus national players of the year Jalen Brunson added 18 points and six assists.

Villanova became the eighth team to win three national titles. Coach Jay Wright has now guided the Owls to two national championships and three Final Four appearances in the last 10 years.

Wright, no doubt is headed to the Naismith Hall of Fame one day. He is as good as any coach in the country with a team that in these times of so-called parity in college basketball, has separated itself from the field by a wide margin.

Photography credit: Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

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Author: Marc Narducci

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