Villanova should make March Madness truly mad

by Marc Narducci | Mar 16, 2022
Villanova should make March Madness truly mad

This should be a truly wild NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The No. 1 seeds are Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and Arizona.

Any of those four could win, but so could several other teams. There isn’t a prohibitive favorite.

One could probably make an argument for about a dozen different teams winning it.

Duke in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season? Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee from the highly competitive Southeastern Conference?

There are others as well. And that brings us to the local entry Villanova, a staple in this tournament. The Wildcats have won championships in 2016 and 2018.

Not counting 2020 when the NCAA tournament was canceled due to COVID, Villanova is now making its ninth straight appearance.

Most pre-tournament bracketologists forecast Villanova as a No. 3 seed and playing the Eastern Regional.

After winning the Big East Conference Tournament in Madison Square Garden, the Wildcats earned a No. 2 seed.

Villanova (26-7) will be in the South Region and play No. 15 Delaware in the first round on Friday.

Arizona is the top seed in the South and will be difficult to beat but Villanova should have plenty of challenges before then.

If Villanova beats Delaware as expected, the Wildcats would meet the winner of No. 7 Ohio State and No. 10 Loyola Chicago. Neither of those teams would be an automatic W for Villanova, but the Wildcats should advance to the Sweet 16.

Then, Villanova could likely face No. 3 seeded Tennessee, a team that has won seven in a row and 12 of 13 (Villanova did beat Tennessee, 71-53 during the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, November in Uncasville, Connecticut). 

That was a long time ago, so one shouldn’t put too much into that game.

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This is not Villanova’s most talented team, but it does have experience, led by fifth-year senior point guard Collin Gillespie, the Big East Player of the Year.

Gillespie has been around so long that he averaged 14.4 minutes per game for the 2018 Villanova national championship team.

This season Gillespie is Villanova’s leading scorer (15.9 ppg.) while 6-4 junior Justin Moore averages 15.0 points.

Tennessee is led by 6-1 freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler (13.8 ppg.), a potential first-round pick.

Then again, it’s not wise to look too far ahead. Tennessee or Villanova for that matter could get tripped up before the third round.

Still, Villanova has one of the top coaches in college basketball in Jay Wright and coaching and veteran guards go a long way in the tournament. Villanova, which has won five in a row and 10 of its last 11, will defend like crazy and if the Wildcats can have consistent offense, they can compete with anybody.

Villanova should benefit from winning so many close games in the Big East. In the quarterfinals, they beat St. John’s 66-65. Then it was a 63-60 win over Seton Hall in the semifinals and 54-48 over Creighton in the championship.

In a wide-open NCAA Tournament, where Gonzaga is the top seed and favorite, anything is possible. One thing is for sure, no team will be doing cartwheels if they have to face a veteran Villanova team.
 


Author: Marc Narducci

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