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30 March 2009

\V/ for \V/endetta?

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/30/2009 01:48:00 AM
Well, not really.

Although Villanova's 2009 Final Four opponent, North Carolina, represents a loaded memory to most Wildcat fans, none of the current Villanova players were around for the 2005 team's Sweet 16 loss to the eventual national champion Tarheels.

The 2005 loss is a particularly brutal memory for Villanova fans, because the game turned on a very questionable -- "phantom," even -- traveling violation on star Villanova shooting guard Allan Ray, just as he put in a basket that would have brought the 'Cats to within one point.

Instead of calling an "and-one" foul, as many fans expected, the official whistled Ray for traveling, thus ending the season of the upstart 2005 Sweet 16 Villanova team.

Then, as now, Villanova was a heavy underdog to what looked to be an unstoppable Carolina team, loaded with future professionals at nearly every position.

That didn't faze the 'Cats so much in 2005; let's hope the 2009 team can play with a similar swagger on Saturday.

The 2009 version of Villanova-North Carolina is scheduled for an 8:57 p.m. (EDT) game time on Saturday.

Video highlights of the 2005 game embedded below.

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29 March 2009


posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/29/2009 03:25:00 AM

Villanova 78
Pittsburgh 76
(box score)

[See end of post for video highlights.]

Villanova defeated the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers tonight in Boston to earn a trip to the Final Four after one of the greatest, most epic, and most nerveracking games in Wildcat history.

It was fitting that a game featuring a ridiculous 10 ties, 15 lead changes, and 66 AP photos would come down to two last-second shots -- one rimming in, and one bouncing just high off the backboard after time expired.

Facing a tied score and a possible overtime with the Wildcats in severe foul trouble, Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds dribbled nearly the length of the floor to put in the winning floater with half a second left. The play will no doubt go down in Villanova and NCAA tournament history as one of the greatest winning baskets ever.

Reynolds's brilliant shot put the Wildcats ahead, 78-76, which was the final score after Levance Fields's desperation heave from 65+ feet bounced just errant off the backboard, way, way too close for comfort.

Although the entire game was an instant classic, the last few minutes were especially amazing. With a little over three minutes to go, Villanova trailed by four points, and Pittsburgh had the ball. Chances of a comeback seemed slim.

Dwayne Anderson, though, had different ideas, as he stole the ball and put in a crucial and-one layup -- and hit the foul shot. That play itself should be considered one of the most clutch sequences in Villanova history.

Then, up by two points with 13 seconds left in the game, Villanova called timeout before attempting to inbound the ball on its own baseline. Instead of simply inbounding the ball safely and shooting free throws to put the game out of reach (Villanova had made an astounding 22 of 23 fouls shots), Villanova and Reggie Redding executed one of the most boneheaded plays in NCAA tournament history.

Redding attempted to hit Dante Cunningham for the "home-run" play, throwing the ball almost 90 feet and nearly out of bounds. Not only did the play turn the ball over, it did not run much time off the clock.

I don't know if that was the play drawn up by Jay Wright in the timeout, but it seems likely it was, given Cunningham's home-run trajectory -- and Redding's eagerness to roll the dice. You cannot fault Jay Wright too much, however, as it was a good coaching job to even have the team in position at the end to potentially put the game away.

The inbounds play, in my mind, ranked right up there with Chris Webber calling timeout with none remaining in the 1993 championship game. Had Villanova lost this game, it would have been in the parthenon of all-time NCAA tournament errors. Thankfully, that did not happen.

Villanova proceeded to foul Levance Fields on the ensuing Pitt possession with just over five seconds remaining, which was nearly as bad a decision as Redding's inbounds throw.

After Fields calmly sank two free throws, the prospect of overtime looked grim for the 'Cats, who were beset by front-court foul trouble.

But then Scottie Reynolds made a play that will be included in NCAA tournament highlight reels for decades to come, and the rest is history.

Villanova advances to its first Final Four since the 1985 NCAA championship.

All in all, Villanova's last-second win over Pitt concluded one of the greatest basketball games in recent memory. I would argue that it topped this year's six-overtime thriller between Syracuse and Connecticut in the Big East tournament, simply because the game meant so much more and ended much more closely.

Personally, I have never rooted so hard for a sporting event in my life. It will be difficult to ever top this game for young Villanova fans -- but the Wildcats have the chance to do just that next weekend.

Right now, though, the win stands for me and many other young Villanova alumni as the greatest basketball game ever seen. The game, of course, triggered racous celebration on Villanova's campus (video).

Congratulations to reader "JohnnyB1" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova awaits the winner of Sunday's North Carolina-Oklahoma regional semifinal. I like the Oklahoma match-up much better for the Wildcats, so I'll be a Sooner fan tomorrow.

"READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis, followed by the embedded video highlights and links to other recaps.

  • Reggie Redding (S, 36 min)

    Redding's solid 36 minutes risked being overshadowed by his foolish inbounds with 13 seconds left. Luckily, Villanova won the game, so Redding's effort can be properly appreciated. Redding shot 2-6 from the field to score 5 points. He was the only Wildcat to miss a free throw, shooting 1-2 in the game's closing minute. He co-led the team in rebounds with 6. Redding added 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, and a team-high 3 blocks. His overall defense was excellent. Redding is the heart and soul of a surging Final Four team. No top grade, because of the end-game sequence and small offensive impact, but Redding's tenacious defense earns him an above-average rating.
    Grade: B-

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 33 min)

    Reynolds hit the game-winning shot in one the great finishes of NCAA tournament history. As Jay Wright said after the game, they will be replaying that basket when Reynolds is 40 years old. Reynolds's clutch play is even more amazing when viewed through the lens of his mediocre shooting night. Scottie shot 4-11 overall, and 0-3 from the three, and the team still won. Reynolds definitely seems bothered by his sore right wrist. Hopefully the full week's rest between now and the national semifinal will allow the wrist issue to fade away. Reynolds was perfect tonight from the foul line, a cool 7-7. He did not handle the ball very well, committing 4 turnovers, but of course he handled it well when it counted. Even though he shot 4-11 with 4 turnovers, no steals, and 1 assist, how can I not give Reynolds an excellent grade after one of the biggest shots in NCAA tournament history?
    Grade: A-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 30 min)

    Cunningham picked up two fouls with over 8 minutes remaining in the first half. I emphatically diagree with the decision to sit him the rest of the half -- this was for a Final Four, after all, and you have to trust your senior not to commit an additional foul before halftime. As such, Villanova's arguably most important player was limited to just 30 minutes. Cunningham was not able to stop Blair, who scored 20 on 9-9 shooting, but he did manage to score 14 points of his own on decent 6-11 shooting. Cunningham pulled in a lower-than-usual 5 rebounds, and added 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1 steal. Whether Villanova next faces UNC and Tyler Hansborough or OU and Blake Griffin, Cunningham's next assignment will be the toughest and most important one of his career.
    Grade: B-

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 28 min)

    Despite how good Dante Cunningham has been the last three years, Dwayne Anderson is the senior I will miss the most next year. His play in the NCAA tournament run has been astounding. Tonight he was easily the player of the game, and he made play after play to keep Villanova competitive. As mentioned, what's lost in Reynold's game-winner was how crucial a play Anderson's steal and three-point play was. Anderson shot a good 5-10 tonight, inlcuding 2-6 from the three and a very nice 5-5 from the foul line. He grabbed a team-high 6 rebounds. He also led the team in steals, with 4 of the 6 Wildcat picks overall. It was an amazing performance, and Villanova will miss Anderson's hustle, athleticism, decision-making, and resourcefullness next season.
    Grade: A

  • Shane Clark (S, 26 min)

    I've got to hand it to Clark. He has been much-criticized in this space in his career, but he saved us tonight. Clark scored in the first half when no one else seemed able. He shot a good 4-7 overall, including an amazing 3-4 from the three. He notched 4 rebounds and committed just 1 turnover. Excellent hustle play from Clark, whose late-season emergence has been one of the bigger reasons for Villanova's improvement.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Stokes (23 min)

    As predicted in the Duke recap, Stokes improved his shooting considerably against Pitt in the second game in the arena. Here is hoping that he will have the chance to play two games in Detroit's Ford Field stadium. Tonight, Stokes shot an excellent 3-4, including 1-2 from the three. He showed he could put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Stokes added 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, and 1 block. I still think Wright subs Stokes in and out too frequently for him to develop an optimal rhythm. Stokes, though, will need to be a reliable scorer in the next game if Villanova hopes to advance to the national championship.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Fisher 18 min)

    Fisher only received 18 minutes tonight, but they were 18 huge minutes, and he was on the floor when it counted at the end. Earlier in the game, Fisher initiated one of the most entertaining plays I have ever seen. He dove to the floor for a loose ball and tipped it behind his body to a trailing Reggie Redding, who proceeded to make a fantastic pass to Reynolds in the corner. Reynolds pump-faked, getting his defender airborne, before driving baseline to make a very nice reverse layup. Without Fisher's extraordinary hustle, Villanova would not have had those two points. Fisher shot poorly again tonight, just 1-7. But where he really shined was on the foul line, where he was a perfect 7-7, including a pair of ultra-clutch late-game trips. He added 4 big rebounds for a 6-foot guard, and handled the ball reasonably well, dishing for 2 assists while committing 2 turnovers.
    Grade: B+

  • Antonio Pena (6 min)

    Pena contributed 6 decent minutes, and while he did not have any impact on the box score, he absorbed two personal fouls that would have disqualified any of Villanova's other frontcourt players.
    Grade: C

  • Incomplete grades: None.

  • Did not play: Frank Tchuisi (CD), Jason Colenda (CD), Maurice Sutton (RS), Russell Wooten (CD).

Video highlights:

Other recaps:

I am sure VBTN, VUhoops, and IBBW will have their recaps up soon, as well.

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28 March 2009

Villanova duels Pitt for Final Four trip

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/28/2009 01:01:00 PM
#11 Villanova (29-7) vs. #4 Pitt (31-4)
7:05 p.m., 28 March 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden.


Line: Pitt -2

Villanova clashes with a very familiar opponent today in Boston for a Final Four berth.

The top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers have won 31 games, and were ranked #4 in the country in the last AP poll. But Villanova beat Pitt last time, and that was before the Wildcats began to look like a top-5 team during their recent tournament run.

There's not much to write about this game that hasn't already been said. Villanova and Pittsburgh are both tough, defense-oriented teams with penchants for physical play.

Unlike its last three games against American, UCLA, and Duke, Villanova will probably be at a disadvantage on the interior tonight, facing Big East player of the year Dejuan Blair.

The Wildcats will have to make up for Pitt's edge down low by using their superior scoring guards and athletic running game. A key player tonight will be Dwayne Anderson, and his ability to score whether or not his three-point shot is falling.

Corey Fisher will need to get to the rim, even if Blair is patrolling the key. Scottie Reynolds will need to bear some of the Wildcat scoring load. Dante Cunningham will have probably the toughest task of all, containing Blair on one end and scoring on the other.

Pittsburgh is a tall order and a legitimate top-5 team nationwide, but the Wildcats are arguably the hottest team in the NCAA tournament. While the Panthers have largely struggled their way to the Elite 8, Villanova has absolutely demolished its last two opponents, with slaughters of ranked UCLA and Duke.

KenPom predicts a 2-point victory for the Panthers, giving Villanova a 40 percent chance for the win.

Oddsmakers installed Pitt as a 2.5 favorite on Friday, but the line has dropped to 2 points as of Saturday afternoon.

Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of North Carolina and Oklahoma in Detroit's national semifinal next Saturday.

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27 March 2009

'Nova destroys Duke on way to Elite 8

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/27/2009 04:51:00 AM
Villanova 77
Duke 54
(box score)

#11 Villanova: 29-7
#6 Duke: 30-7

Villanova put together another excellent 40 minutes of basketball on Thursday to absolutely dismantle the 2nd-seeded Duke Blue Devils in Boston.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright thoroughly out-foxed the much-celebrated Coach K, whose Blue Devils had no answer for Villanova's high-pressure defense.

The Wildcats advance to the Elite Eight to face the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers, with a Final Four berth on the line.

Villanova-Pitt will tip at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Villanova overcame a slow start out of the locker room on Thursday to score 11 straight points after falling behind 5-0. The Wildcats took a three-point lead into halftime before totally dominating the second period by a margin of 20.

Villanova used its superior athleticism to generate a tremendous pressure defense and an edge on the boards. The Wildcats out-rebounded Duke by a tally of 49-34.

Villanova's manic defense held Duke's Gerald Henderson, a future NBA player, to a dismal 1-14 shooting. Blue Devil forward Jon Scheyer shot nearly as poorly, going 3-18.

On the offensive end, Villanova focused on shooting efficient shots with good looks. Forwards Dwayne Anderson, Dante Cunningham, and Shane Clark followed all misses with reckless abandon, helping the 'Cats pull in 13 offensive rebounds and put in a bunch of follow-up buckets.

Villanova once again played hard and crisp basketball for the entirety of the game, as the Wildcats had done against UCLA. After the game, Jay Wright attributed this consistency to an improving team.

Congratulations to reader "Pena Power" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova advances to the regional finals on Saturday for a game against top-seeded Pittsburgh. The winner of that game, of course, earns a trip to Detroit and the Final Four.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 33 min)

    Cunningham was the best post player in the game by far, and luckily for the Wildcats he asserted himself as such. Dante shot a decent 5-13 from the field and a good 4-6 from the foul line to score 14 points. He led the 'Cats in rebounds, with 11, and blocked 1 shot. He committed just 1 turnover, which is excellent. He had 1 steal that led to a very nice fast break dunk.
    Grade: A-

  • Reggie Redding (S, 32 min)

    Player of the game -- and it's not even close. Redding was a force on defense. His help defense was so perfect, I took to watching him on every possession, just to appreciate how well he moved within the flow of the pressure D. He played efficiently on offense, shooting 4-7 to score 11 points. He added a helpful 9 rebounds, and led the team in assists with 4. He blocked 2 shots, stole 1 ball, and committed 2 turnovers. All-around outstanding play, but truly special on defense. Villanova will need a similar effort from Redding on Saturday to get past Pitt.
    Grade: A

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 32 min)

    Reynolds, plagued by minor wrist pain, finally got going a bit in the scoring department. Though he shot a mediocre 5-15, he was a perfect 4-4 from the line, and hit 2 of his 6 threes to lead the team with 16 points. Reynolds added 3 boards, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 turnovers, and 2 key steals. He made good decisions with the ball, and played well on defense. His 6 three-point attempts were all good shots, and 2 more of them could have easily fell. Villanova will need Reynolds to score against Pitt, especially since Blair might limit the Wildcats' interior offense.
    Grade: B+

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 26 min)

    Anderson plays so hard and with so much passion. He always seems to be in the right spot for a tip, a follow, a lay-up, or a fast-break. Against Duke, he shot an efficient 4-8 from the field despite missing badly on his 2 three-point attempts. He grabbed 7 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and turned the ball over just once. Anderson has developed from a practice player for Villanova into a real asset, an athletic weapon that can hardly be defended against. Along with Fisher, Anderson has become my favorite Wildcat to watch play.
    Grade: A-

  • Corey Fisher (24 min)

    Fisher managed to have a very positive impact on this game despite struggling a bit offensively. He shot a bad 1-6, including 0-3 from the three, but most of those were very good shots. He was 4-6 from the foul line. He added 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and handled the ball very well, committing just 2 turnovers. (No, I am not going to count that low-class ball-grab by Nolan Smith as the last 3 seconds ticked off the clock as a turnover.) Fisher's one basket came on a beautiful dribble drive with a nice pump fake at the end. Villanova is going to need Fisher to shoot better next time in Boston, but Fisher played well today despite the poor shooting percentage. His defense was so good I was surprised to see he only had 1 steal -- he likely caused several more turnovers with his pesky pressure.
    Grade: B-

  • Shane Clark (S, 22 min)

    Clark had some great moves in this game. He shot 3-5 to score 7 points. Clark grabbed 5 boards and notched 1 brilliant assist on a fantastic interior pass. The box score credits him with 0 turnovers, but he did actually make a turnover when a perfect Scottie Reynolds pass sailed through his hands. This has been a regular occurrence this year -- perhaps Villanova can spend a little more time on the passing drills with Clark before Saturday? Still, a very solid game from Clark.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Stokes (21 min)

    Stokes looked good handling the ball today, despite the 3 listed turnovers. He shot 2-7 from the field and 1-4 from the three. He was perfect from the line at 2-2. He pulled in 4 rebounds, and added an assist and a block. Not the most explosive game from Stokes, but he played 21 solid minutes, including good defense. Look for Stokes to heat it up from the three at the next opportunity. A very unscientific "pattern" would seem to indicate that Stokes shoots much better the second game in an arena.
    Grade: B-

  • Antonio Pena (8 min)

    Pena was only in for 8 minutes but played very well. He shot 1-1 on a very nice dunk, and was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line as well. He added 3 rebounds in his limited time, and committed no turnovers and no fouls. Can't ask for much more than that in 8 minutes.
    Grade: B+

  • Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min).

  • Did not play: Maurice Sutton (RS), Russell Wooten (CD).

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26 March 2009

Villanova to battle Duke in Sweet 16

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/26/2009 01:30:00 PM
#11 Villanova (28-7) vs. #6 Duke (30-6)
9:57 p.m., 26 March 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden.


Line: Duke -2.5

Villanova returns to the Sweet 16 this year with a game against the Duke Blue Devils in Boston.

The game, scheduled for 9:57 p.m., is the last of the four match-ups tonight and will be the featured game by CBS.

In an ESPN poll today, 54 percent of voters listed the Villanova-Duke game as the match-up they most want to see tonight.

Villanova-Duke is also the closest handicapped by oddsmakers of the four games tonight. Pitt-Xavier (7), UConn-Purdue (6.5), and Memphis-Missouri (4.5) all see the higher seed favored by significantly more than Duke's 2.5-point spread over Villanova.

The Wildcats will try to use their penetrating backcourt and athletic forwards to out-hustle and out-muscle the well-coached Blue Devils.

Duke plays a run-and-gun, perimeter-oriented game, and the Devils love to score in transition, especially by pulling up for a three.

Villanova will have to stay at home on defense to limit Duke's triple opportunities. On offense, the 'Cats would do well to test Duke's interior with dribble penetration and posting up Dante Cunningham.

KenPom favors Duke by 3 points in this neutral-court match-up, giving Villanova a 41 percent chance at victory.

Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.

The winner of this game will face either Pittsburgh or Xavier on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four.

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Report: Wright gabs thru open practice

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/26/2009 12:54:00 AM

Well, this is not encouraging.

The excellent Rush The Court blog attended Boston's open practice session today for all five mind-numbing hours, and files reports on each team's session.

Though the nonpartisan Rush The Court blogger concedes that 'Nova's practice was "more intense" than the preceding Xavier session, it looks like that was mostly due to Scottie Reynolds, who initiated the team's drills after warm-ups.

Rush The Court reports that during this time, Jay Wright spent nearly 30 minutes chatting with the CBS announcing team:

Where was Jay Wright while Reynolds was running the drills? Talking to Raftery and Lundquist of course. He spent almost 30 minutes talking to the CBS announcers. I certainly hope CBS got some amazing insights that they will share with us because they seemed to be talking up a storm.

I know it's cliche to say that Jay Wright is less an X-and-O's coach than a master of public relations, but here, at least, it seems to be the case.

It's nice that Jay Wright is confident enough to spend a major chunk of his team's practice session chewing the fat with the announcers, but is it really the best use of time, considering the major battle Villanova is in for tomorrow against Duke?

Duke's coach Mike Krzyzewski, to his credit, took the practice more seriously. According to RTC:

You could tell the difference in practice styles right away. [...] The other teams' practices were loosely organized, [but] the Duke practice was methodical and organized with a military precision. [...] The Duke session was much more crisp than the other sessions with very little wasted time. I don’t think I saw any of the players in the other sessions sweating (with the exception of Redford), but every Duke player was sweating by the end of the session.

Even for the Jay Wright apologists, it has to be a little troubling to hear about Wright gabbing away with the announcers for half an hour just one day before the biggest Villanova game in three years.

Meanwhile, Krzyzewski looked to have used his time much more efficiently, even though his team is a solid 2-point favorite in the game.

Wright's lackadaisical approach to practice may not -- and hopefully will not -- cost Villanova the game, but it should make Villanova fans a little less confident about the Wildcats' chances Thursday night.

[Photo credit: rushthecourt.net]

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23 March 2009

Villanova soars past UCLA to Sweet 16

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/23/2009 02:19:00 AM
Villanova 89
(box score)

#18 UCLA: 26-9
#11 Villanova: 28-7

Villanova fired on all cylinders on Saturday to blow out a very good UCLA team and march on to the Sweet 16 next weekend.

Not only was the game never really close; The Wildcats uncharacteristically played well for a full 40 minutes, the first time this season we have seen both the consistent effort and the results from this team across an entire game against top-flight opposition.

I have to hand it to Jay Wright: he coached an excellent game. His game plan worked well from start to finish, and the Wildcats' output looked like the result of meticulous preparation.

I even agreed with most of his substitution patterns and other in-game decisions.

After surviving too close a call against American where the Wildcats looked lost for two-thirds of the game, Villanova obviously had the Bruins' number from the tip on Saturday. With just two days between the games, the coaching staff certainly had begun preparing for UCLA before the American game on Thursday.

And it worked out.

Villanova's physical defense, its "nothing-easy" philosophy, and its tenacity in attacking the weak Bruin interior on the offensive end exploited UCLA's vulnerabilities while minimizing its strengths.

The Wildcat defense contained senior Darren Collison more than I thought possible in his final collegiate game, and his high-flying back-court mate Josh Shipp never cleared the tower.

Early physical play by Villanova helped set the tone that nothing would come easy for UCLA, leaving the Bruins' offense in disarray from the start. The Wildcats played a pressure defense, with a nifty 1-2-1 press and aggressive contention of all passing and dribbling lanes.

On the offensive end, the Wildcats used a balanced attack that emphasized getting to the rim, post play, and interior passing to rip the Bruins' exposed underside to shreds. Point guard Corey Fisher and shooting guard Reggie Redding were integral to the first tactic, and senior forward Dante Cunningham took care of the latter two.

These strategies, in turn, opened up some nice jump shots for Villanova's shooters, most notably Corey Stokes.

Overall, the game was a nice realization of the potential latent all season, given Villanova's offensive weapons. And it's almost scary to consider that Scottie Reynolds, the team's best scorer, remained in a bit of a shooting slump -- though his numbers improved Saturday, as well.

With Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Dante Cunningham, and Dwayne Anderson all scoring well, Villanova was unstoppable. Add a hot Scottie Reynolds to the mix, and the Wildcats would be able to play with -- and beat -- anyone this year.

In addition to the game itself, another highlight on Saturday was Jay Wright's decision to invite the 1971 Villanova team to sit behind his bench, and to join his team in the locker room afterwards.

Jack Kraft's 1971 team, of course, advanced to the national championship game before falling to John Wooden's UCLA Bruins.

Saturday was the first time the two programs had met in the NCAA tournament since then. Inviting the 1971 team to be front and center at the festivities was a classy move, and further demonstrates Wright's excellent handling of public relations for the team and the university.

Congratulations to reader "IMKL" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova now moves on to Boston for a Sweet 16 match with the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday. The game seems favorable for the Wildcats, as Villanova may be able to again exploit its athletic interior versus slower Blue Devils.

Shock and awe saturation coverage of the Duke game to follow later this week.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Reggie Redding (S, 34 min)

    One of the better games of Redding's career. This was why Wright prefers to give so much time to Redding over those who might score more efficiently -- and why Wright will likely start Redding next season despite the presence of five more talented guards on the roster. Redding played efficiently on offense, shooting 4-8 from the field, 1-2 from the three, and 4-4 from the line. He grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out a team-high 7 assists. He played excellent defense, not only coming up with 4 steals, but also doing great defensive jobs on UCLA's three perimeter stars (Collison, Shipp, and Jrue Holiday). The only downside to Redding's game was that he committed 4 of the 11 Wildcat turnovers, but it was till one of his best performances of the year.
    Grade: A-

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 34 min)

    Anderson didn't shoot nearly as well as he did against American, but he was hardly less effective. He shot 4-14 and 2-4 to score 10 points. Though the shooting numbers are bad, he made up for them with energy and aggression on defense, passing, and on the glass. Anderson led the team in rebounds with 11, and rounded out his box score with 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 turnovers. Anderson's athletic, explosive game in the halfcourt will be key against Duke's runners and gunners.
    Grade: B+

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 31 min)

    Reynolds went a long way to break out of a recent shooting slump with some very decent offense on Saturday, He was 4-9 from the field and 2-6 from the three, scoring 11 points. He played very good defense, limiting Collison and Holiday substantially. Reynolds did not compile many more statistics -- he had 0 rebounds, 1 assist, and 0 steals -- but he did not commit a single turnover in 31 minutes, which was huge. Look for Reynolds to have a monster scoring game before this tournament is over.
    Grade: B+

  • Corey Fisher (25 min)

    Corey Fisher was the best player on the court on Saturday and it was not even close. Fisher ran the Wildcats offense flawlessly -- literally without an error. In 25 minutes, Fisher was explosive and under control, simultaneously. He scored 13 points on 4-7 shooting, including another perfect performance from the foul line (4-4). His four baskets included some spectacular finishes that were impossible to defend. He passed for 5 assists and committed 0 turnovers, even while being guarded by Collison and Holiday, two of the best pickpockets in the nation. The only limit on Fisher's performance Saturday was his slight foul trouble, and he will have to monitor that issue against Duke on Thursday. The Blue Devils have been known to get their share of calls. This offense is now Fisher's to run, and he will be front and center in the Sweet 16.
    Grade: A

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 24 min)

    Cunningham was spectacular on Saturday. Taking advantage of UCLA's questionable interior, Cunningham looked like a man against boys in the lane. He shot an excellent 7-11 from the field and a decent 4-7 from the line. He did not take any questionable jumpshots, instead focusing on running the floor and owning the post. He grabbed 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and dished out 2 assists. He had 2 turnovers. Cunningham sat for most of the first half due to foul trouble, although he probably could have played with 2 fouls. Then again, the Wildcats were rolling, so Jay Wright's caution was justified this time.
    Grade: A

  • Corey Stokes (23 min)

    Stokes was hot from long range on Saturday, especially in the first half. His early long-range bombs forced the Bruins to collapse less on Cunningham, which opened the interior. When Stokes is firing threes and Cunningham is patrolling the post -- all while Fisher is threatening to get to the rim at any given moment, and Anderson is running circles through the paint -- this offense is difficult to contain. Stokes was also good defensively on Saturday. He finished 4-9 from the three with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 turnover.
    Grade: B+

  • Shane Clark (S, 16 min)

    Clark was back to his complementary game on Saturday, shooting an efficient 4-7 and bringing the help on the offensive glass. He grabbed 4 rebounds, had 1 steal and 1 assist each, and did not commit any turnovers. His defense improved since the American game, too. In limited doses, Clark's hustle game is a nice change of pace for the Wildcats.
    Grade: B

  • Antonio Pena (10 min)

    Pena mysteriously did not see any time against American, but he got 10 minutes on Saturday. He was fairly ineffective in his playing time, however. He shot 0-1 from the field and 2-4 from the foul line -- hardly impressive numbers. He also committed 2 turnovers while grabbing only 1 rebound, with no assists, steals, or blocks. Pena will be a key post player next year, and hopefully he can pick it up as a reserve in the Sweet 16. One positive note was his physical defense on Saturday.
    Grade: D+

  • Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min), Russell Wooten (1 min).

  • Did not play: Maurice Sutton (RS).

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21 March 2009

'Nova, UCLA to clash in round 2

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/21/2009 02:52:00 AM
#11 Villanova (27-7) vs. #18 UCLA (26-8)
1:05 p.m., 21 March 2009 at the Wachovia Center


Line: Villanova -2

Villanova returns to the Wachovia Center this afternoon to face UCLA for the right to go to the Sweet 16.

UCLA has been to three consecutive Final Fours, but the Bruins appear to be a bit weaker this year, earning just a 6-seed and beating an upstart VCU by a single point on Thursday.

Despite those chinks in UCLA's armor, the Bruins will be an extremely difficult out. UCLA point guard Darren Collison is a force on both offense and defense, and he figures to be the best player on the Wachovia Center court on Saturday.

Senior Josh Shipp has also been to three Final Fours, and is as athletic as they come at shooting guard.

UCLA also has one of the most talented freshman guards in the country, Jrue Holiday. Holiday excels on defense and is one of the best and quickest on-ball defenders in the nation.

This game will be one of the few times the guard-laden Wildcats actually have a disadvantage in the backcourt. Villanova has the chance to make up for that with their athletic scoring forwards, Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham.

Oddsmakers have installed Villanova as 2-point favorites, largely, one would think, because of the home-court advantage. UCLA might actually have been favored on a neutral court.

Indeed, KenPom favors UCLA by one point even after factoring the home-court edge to the Wildcats. KenPom gives Villanova a 45 percent chance at victory.

Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.

The winner of this game earns a trip to Boston next week to face the winner of Duke/Texas in the Sweet 16.

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20 March 2009

'Nova avoids disaster with win over American

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/20/2009 02:18:00 AM
Villanova 80
American 67
(box score)

American: 24-8
#11 Villanova: 27-7

Villanova used a furious second-half run and some very accommodating officiating to hold off an American team that looked for much of the game like it might pull off a major upset.

The Wildcats opened up limp in the first half and trailed by 10 at the break. Villanova would fall behind by as many as 14 points in the second half before turning the game around.

Villanova played to its low-major opponent's strength for the first part of the game, settling for outside jumpers and not guarding the perimeter closely.

The Wildcats started pushing the ball inside more in the second half, when they also benefitted from some very early American foul trouble.

Villanova was in the bonus for the game's final 12:27. American's most dangerous player, Garrison Carr, picked up his fourth personal foul with more than eight minutes to play.

Overall, Villanova attempted 29 free throws in the game, while American received just five foul shots. Some of that disparity can be attributed to the team's differing offensive attacks, but the officiating was certainly favorable to the pseudo-home-team Wildcats, as well.

One major question tonight was the total absence of Antonio Pena, who did not see the court at all. Is Jay Wright shortening the bench just for the sake of post-season shortening?

Logic would dictate that when the two tallest post players in the major American rotation are 6-8, it would be a good move to give Pena even more time than usual, not less. Pena, after all, is the team's second-best post scorer.

Chalk it up to another Jay-Wright playing-time mystery. One would hope Wright had a good reason this time and that it was not just an illogical whim; but one could very well be disappointed clinging to that hope.

With the win, Villanova avoided what would have been one of the most embarrassing losses in school history. The Wildcats will need to play at much higher level, much more consistently, if they hope to beat a non-Patriot League team in this tournament.

Congratulations to reader "Pena Power" for most closely predicting the final score.

Next up for Villanova is what should be an epic match with UCLA on Saturday.

The Bruins have been to three consecutive Final Fours, and are ranked #10 in the country by KenPom, nine places ahead of Villanova. Even after factoring in Villanova's semi-home-court advantage, KenPom gives UCLA a 53 percent chance to win.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Reggie Redding (S, 36 min)

    One would have liked a bit more offensively out of Redding in 36 minutes versus a lesser-talented team. He was 1-4 from the field and 1-2 from the line. He was 1-3 on three-point attempts, including one very ill-advised shot. He grabbed 4 boards, passed for 1 assist, and had 1 turnover. He did not get any steals, but did lead the team in blocks with 4.
    Grade: C-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 36 min)

    Cunningham handled much of the team's scoring load, putting in 25 on 9-16 shooting. As usual, he was great inside and on the break, but terrible outside. He has got to stop shooting outside jumpers: for one, he is a terrible jumpshooter from outside of 16 feet, and two, when he is out of the paint shooting them, he can't be inside the paint looking for rebounds. Cunningham was a perfect 7-7 from the foul line, which was crucial to the victory. He grabbed 7 rebounds, passed for 2 assists, and blocked 3 shots. He did have 4 turnovers, which is unacceptable against such an unathletic frontcourt.
    Grade: B-

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 35 min)

    Reynolds struggled on the offense, but did find a way to get the job done in the game. He is just simply not suited to be a point guard, no matter how much Jay Wright tries to shoehorn him into the position. As noted by the announcers, Reynolds made terrible decisions with the ball, and indeed, the game did not turn around for the Wildcats until Fisher took over point duties. Reynolds shot 2-7 from the field and missed all 3 of his three-point attempts. He was 4-5 at the foul line. He dished out just 2 assists and committed 4 turnovers, but at least he had 3 steals. Villanova is going to need Reynolds in stride in order to score against Collison, Holiday, and Shipp, which might be the best defensive backcourt in America.
    Grade: C-

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 31 min)

    Anderson basically won the game for Villanova. It was a dream match-up for Anderson; American had no one who could deal with his size, speed, athleticism, and scoring ability. Anderson shot a super-efficient 9-10 from the field, including 4-5 from the three. He was perfect from the foul line, shooting 3-3. He led the team in rebounds, with 8, stole 1 ball, passed for 1 assist, and committed 3 turnovers. He ran the floor well and played with energy and intensity. This is the kind of play Villanova needs from Anderson if the Wildcats plan to make a deep tournament run.
    Grade: A

  • Corey Fisher (27 min)

    Along with Anderson, Fisher was the difference in this game. Fisher put the team on his back in the second half and willed the Wildcats to victory. How well he played definitely is not reflected accurately in the box score: Fisher shot just 1-5 from the field to score 11 points. Fisher, however, drew so many fouls with his aggressive penetration play that he almost got the Eagles in foul trouble single-handidly. Fisher was an excellent 9-10 from the foul line. He passed for a team-high 4 assists. His three turnovers were mitigated by his 3 steals. Fisher's defense was also excellent. My guess is that this game would never have been in question if Fisher played 37 minutes instead of 27.
    Grade: A-

  • Shane Clark (S, 19 min)

    Clark is the worst defender in the rotation by an order of magnitude. He allowed so many threes in the first-half by unnecessarily doubling down on American's 6-8 post players, I didn't know what to say. Clark handled the ball slowly and clumsily and generally was in the wrong places at the wrong times. He did have one very nice interior assist to Cunningham, I will give him that. He also was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line. But he was 0-2 from the field and was not even a remote threat to score. He only grabbed 3 rebounds, tied for the lowest on the team. He passed for 3 assists and did not have any turnovers. He did, however, kill two fast-breaks prematurely (by my count) when the ball was routed through his hands. Nineteen minutes for Clark and zero for Pena is not a winning formula for this NCAA tournament.
    Grade: D-

  • Corey Stokes (16 min)

    Stokes is actually Villanova's most efficient offensive player, statistically, and he needs more time on the court. Tonight, Stokes shot 2-6 from the field and a bad 1-5 from the three. He added 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 steal, and 1 block. I would like to see him in the 23-25 minute range next time.
    Grade: C-

  • Incomplete grades: None.

  • Did not play: Antonio Pena (CD), Frank Tchuisi (CD), Russell Wooten (CD), Jason Colenda (CD), Maurice Sutton (RS).

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19 March 2009

Villanova faces American in tourney opener

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/19/2009 03:23:00 AM
#11 Villanova (26-7) vs. American (24-7)
7:20 p.m., 19 March 2009 at the Wachovia Center


Line: Villanova -17

After a full season of resume building, RPI watching, bubble debating, seed calculating, and bracket plotting; of wishing, hoping, thinking, praying, planning, and dreaming, the NCAA tournament is finally here.

Villanova, a 3-seed in the East region, draws the best possible geographic assignment for tonight's game against the 14th-seeded American Eagles.

The Wildcats need only take a short bus ride down 476-south and I-95, three-quarters an hour at most, to reach their first-weekend tournament site at the Wachovia Center in South Philadelphia.

Villanova has already played the NCAA-maximum three games here this season, and will try to make it an even five this weekend before potentially advancing to Boston.

American University itself has a relatively short trip from Washington, DC, and will try to pull off the upset.

The Eagles feature a senior-laden team that pushed 2-seed Tennessee to the edge of elimination for 35 minutes last year.

American's biggest weapon is a pair of sub-6-foot guards, Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer, who each typically play 90 percent or more of available minutes. Stopping these quick guards will be the main focus of Villanova's celebrated back-court of Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Reggie Redding, and Corey Stokes.

The Eagles have another pair of major contributors, two 6-8 forwards: Brian Gilmore and Stephen Lumpkins. Gilmore, in particular, is dangerous on offense. Dante Cunningham, Antonio Pena, Dwayne Anderson, and Shane Clark will look to shut those two down.

Villanova will be favored in every possible way: talent, experience, home-court, seeding, and expectations.

American will have nothing to lose, everything to gain, and the relevant memory of staying right with Tennessee for 88 percent of its tournament game last year.

Oddsmakers favor Villanova by 17, which I think is a tad high, even for a pseudo home game. It is the NCAA tournament, after all, and American has lost just seven games all year. The Eagles are also winners of 13 in a row, one of the nation's longer win streaks.

Of course, the best win on the season for American was a road victory against Jacksonville four months ago, so Villanova really should be in the driver's seat.

Stats oracle KenPom predicts a 12-point Villanova victory, with a 90 percent chance for a Wildcats win.

Take a look at more previews than you can shake a stick at!
If Villanova is able to come away with the win, the Wildcats will face the winner of tonight's UCLA/VCU game on Saturday afternoon, also at the Wachovia Center.

Try to predict the game's final score in the comment section below.

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18 March 2009

Best and worse cases for Villanova

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/18/2009 07:23:00 PM
Every March, Let's Go Nova's favorite college basketball writer Pat Forde pens his best and worst cases column, where he outlines the wildest dreams and worst nightmares for all 64 NCAA tournament teams.

Forde hit the nail on the head for Villanova last year, when his best-case scenario of Villanova beating Clemson and Siena before losing in the Sweet 16 came true to the letter.

This year, he sets the bar a little higher. According to Forde, the dream 'Nova run ends as national runner-up:

Best Case: Under-the-radar Big East power flexes its muscles, pounding American and VCU while taking advantage of absurdly friendly Philadelphia draw. The Wildcats wear down Duke and then beat Pitt for the second time this season to reach their first Final Four since winning the whole thing with the Perfect Game in 1985. Dante Cunningham finishes off NBA audition by averaging 20 and 10 on the way to Detroit, where Jay Wright looks flawless as the Wildcats beat North Carolina and then lose to Louisville for the third time this season in the final.

I think that scenario is a tad generous, even as the best case. Just getting to the Final Four would be a dream come true for this 'Nova team, and I am not sure the Wildcats could defeat the UNC juggernaut even in my wildest dreams. But, you never know, especially with Ty Lawson's toe on paparazzi watch all March.

Villanova's worst case is exactly the scenario I dread will happen -- a second-round loss to an excellent UCLA team:

Worst Case: Nova is slowed down and taken out in the second round by UCLA, but that's only the beginning. Turns out Wright was doing his own NBA audition and takes a job in The Association. Guard Reynolds bugs out after his junior season for the pros as well. Rollie Massimino agitates to get his old job back. Even worse, so does Steve Lappas.

Exactly my fear, although as regular readers of this column surely know, I would not mind having Lappas or Rollie back over Jay Wright!

Let's hope that Forde makes it two years in a row for his best-case scenario coming true for Villanova.

What are you best and worse cases? Does anyone think we could actually lose to American? And who is dreaming even higher than Forde, wishing for a national title?

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17 March 2009

How good is 'Nova's draw?

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/17/2009 01:28:00 AM

Calling all 'Nova fans! Watch ALL March Mayhem games at Buckhead Saloon. $2 U-call-its. Book a table for a FREE BEER TOWER. We have four projector screens and 15 plasmas. Call 215.925.8170.

We've had a few days to digest the NCAA tournament bracket, and we can start to draw some conclusions about Villanova's draw to Detroit.

At first, I was thrilled to find Villanova in the East regional -- not only for the excellent geography, but also because I consider Pittsburgh to be the weakest of the 1-seeds by far. There is no 1-seed I'd rather see Villanova play than Pittsburgh, especially since the Wildcats have already beaten the Panthers this year.

Similarly, I am happy Villanova has a potential Sweet 16 match-up with #2 Duke. The Blue Devils scare me a lot less than some of the other 2-seeds, especially Memphis.

But then I started to take a look at Villanova's earlier path to the Sweet 16 itself -- particularly, its mini-tournament in one of the two Philadelphia pods.

Of course, it is a tremendous advantage for Villanova to play its first two games in the Wachovia Center, its home court away from home. But are Villanova's podmates conducive to an easy trip to Boston for the Wildcats?

No way.

In the first round, Villanova draws a feisty American team. The Eagles return nearly everyone from last year, when they took 2-seed Tennessee to the brink of elimination in the first 35 minutes of the first round.

This year, American boasts an RPI in the 70s and actually received a vote in this week's AP top 25! Does that look like the profile of a lowly 14-seed?

Villanova, favored by 17, should win the game, of course. KenPom gives American just a 10 percent chance at the upset. If the Wildcats are able to hold on, they will not get a pushover in the second round.

Waiting for Villanova will be either #6 UCLA or #11 VCU.

First, let's start with VCU, in the event the Rams are able to pull off the upset.

VCU is ranked 55th this year by KenPom. The Rams also have excellent NCAA tournament experience from 2007, when they beat Duke in the first round and took Pitt to overtime in the second.

Senior guard Eric Maynor is back for one more tournament run before heading to the NBA. The Rams also have another future pro in big man Larry Sanders.

VCU is going to be a very tough out in this tournament.

But its opponent, #6 UCLA, looks even better.

Is UCLA the best-ever #6 seed in tournament history? Well, I can't think of one better. The Bruins have been to three consecutive Final Fours, and feature three seniors -- Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, and Alfred Aboya -- who have as much NCAA tournament experience as anyone in college basketball.

UCLA also has Jrue Holiday, one of the very best freshman guards in the country -- the Kemba Walker of the West.

The Bruins are ranked #17 in the nation by the coaches, and #18 by the writers. Those are significantly better rankings than the 21-24 range implied by the #6 seed.

Most frightening, however, is UCLA's KenPom rating: #9 in the country. For a 6-seed! Ahead of 3-seeds Mizzou (#10), Kansas (#11), and Villanova (#19). The Bruins are also ahead of 2-seeds MSU (#13) and Oklahoma (#17).

That means, according to KenPom, Villanova would be better off playing any of the other 3-seeds, two of the 2-seeds, all of the 4-seeds except Gonzaga, and all of the 5-seeds, than to play 6-seeded UCLA in the second round!

In fact, since UCLA is ranked a full 10 spots higher than Villanova, the Bruins would be significantly favored on a neutral court over the Wildcats. It's a good thing that the Wachovia Center will not be a neutral site for that game.

An obvious repudiation of this argument is the idea that the tournament is tough for everyone.

Well, not this tough. Look at the other 3-seeds this year and their paths to the sweet 16.

  • Missouri: Cornell; Utah St./Marquette
  • Kansas: ND State; Dayton/WVU
  • Syracuse: SF Austin; Temple/ASU

There is not a team on that list I wouldn't rather play than UCLA.

All in all, if the Wildcats are lucky enough to get past American on Thursday, UCLA is a monster assignment. It's more like an elite-8 game than a second-round match-up.

VCU would not be a cake walk, either.

If not for the friendly confines of the Wachovia Center, I'd be even more worried. But with the home-court edge, I think Villanova gets to Boston -- barely.

Once the 'Cats are in Boston, it's the smoothest possible sailing to Detroit. I really like the team's chances vs. Duke or Pittsburgh (or Texas or FSU).

So what do you think? Vote in the poll below.

Did the selection committee give Villanova a bit more of a test, factoring in the pseudo-home-court advantage? Or did Villanova just get unlucky in its first-weekend draw?

Maybe you totally disagree with me, and love Villanova's draw to the Sweet 16.

Either way, let me know in the comments.

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15 March 2009

Villanova-American game time

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/15/2009 11:06:00 PM
The NCAA has just released the official bracket with game times (PDF).

Third-seeded Villanova plays its first-round game against 14-seed American at 7:20 p.m. (EDT) Thursday at the Wachovia Center.

This was an expected time slot for the Wildcats, because it made sense for the NCAA to slate 'Nova podmate UCLA 30 minutes following Villanova, at about 9:50 p.m. Eastern, or just before 7 p.m. in Los Angeles.

Connecticut, which shares the Wachovia Center with Villanova but is not in the same pod, will tip off 30 minutes after Philly's opening game Thursday, the 8-9 game between BYU and TAMU. Expect UConn to take the court at about 3 p.m.

Should Villanova win on Thursday, the Wildcats will face the winner of UCLA-VCU at either 1:05 p.m. or 3:35 p.m. on Saturday.

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Villanova: 3-seed in Phila. v. American

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/15/2009 06:46:00 PM
Villanova will play American University at the Wachovia Center on Thursday, March 19.

Villanova, a 3-seed, faces the 14th-seeded American Eagles, champions of the Patriot League.

Game time is yet to be determined, but since UCLA is from the West Coast, the Bruins will most likely get the 9:30 p.m. slot, leaving Villanova-American to start at 7 p.m.

Villanova is in the East region (Boston), where Pitt is the #1 and Duke is the #2 seed (and potential Sweet 16 matchup).

UCLA is the 6-seed in Villanova's Philly pod as the potential second-round matchup. UCLA as a 6-seed is a very rough break for Villanova, as the Bruins might be one of the most dangerous 6-seeds ever, just one year removed from the Final Four.

KenPom ranks UCLA as the #9 team in the nation, while Villanova is #19. If both teams make it to the second round, KenPom will actually have UCLA favored to win, if you consider the Wachovia Center a neutral court. (Which it won't be.)

UCLA has one of the best resumes for a 6-seed I've ever seen. The Bruins are 14-6 in a good Pac-10, and have some great games out of conference. UCLA blew out Villanova common opponent Notre Dame by 26. They lost to Texas at Texas by fewer points than Villanova lost to Texas in a very pro-Villanova Madison Square Garden in New York.

The good news is that UCLA itself has a rough first-round matchup with Eric Maynor and VCU.

UCLA will be tough, but aside from that, you couldn't ask for much better for Villanova. Geographically, Villanova will own the crowd in Philadelphia and is very familiar with the Wachovia Center court.

If the Wildcats are able to win their Philly pod, it's off to to Boston and potential match-ups with Duke and Pitt in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, respectively. You have figure that Villanova will have a large contingent of alumni in Boston.

As for matchups, Villanova has already beaten Pitt this season, and I like the way Villanova matches up with Duke as long as the Wildcats can figure out a way to stop Gerald Henderson.

But Villanova might face an extremely difficult test in round-2 vs. a seasoned UCLA team. This is where having the home crowd at the Wachovia Center, Villanova's home-away-from-home, is a huge advantage. Even so, go VCU!

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Tickets still available for Philly

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/15/2009 06:45:00 PM
A small number of general admission tickets are available for the three sessions in Philadelphia on Thursday and Saturday.

Villanova plays American in the #3 vs. #14 game in Philadelphia on Thursday night. Game time is yet to be determined, but it's likely Villanova will play in the early session to accommodate West Coast viewers watching UCLA in the other game.

The tickets come with seats, but the seats are not yet specified.

The tickets for the three sessions (six games) are being sold by Ticketmaster for their $220 face value plus fees.

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Selection Sunday predictions

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/15/2009 02:02:00 PM
The official NCAA tournament brackets are just a few hours away, but there's still time to make some quick predictions.

First of all, I would be very surprised if Villanova is not a 3-seed in Philadelphia for the Thursday-Saturday games at the Wachovia Center. It's looking very likely the 'Cats will be sent to South Philadelphia to play a 14-seed on Thursday.

My wild guess for Villanova's first-round opponent? East Tennessee State.

Louisville, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and Memphis look pretty solid as the one-seeds. Duke, Connecticut, Michigan State, and Oklahoma should be the two seeds. If any of those teams could swap places, it would be UConn and Memphis, but with 25 straight wins and an absolute demolition of the C-USA, it would be unfair to the Tigers to leave them off the top line.

In the Big East, I have Syracuse as a solid #4, Marquette as a weak #6, and West Virginia as a solid #6. Providence heads to the NIT as a 2-seed, a victim of a brutal Big East schedule and a tight bubble due to mediocrity in the Big Ten and the SEC.

I have Penn State out. San Diego State in. Maryland in. St. Mary's out. (That cheap tactic of scheduling a cupcake after the conference tournament cannot be rewarded!) Arizona gets in, and its streak of tournament appearances survives one more year. Minnesota? Sorry Tubby. The Gophers are out despite his excellent coaching job turning that team around. Wisconsin is in, and is the safest of all the teams listed in this paragraph.

I think Creighton gets in as the very last team, as long as Tennessee holds off Mississippi St. this afternoon in the SEC final.

If I were in charge of the committee, Davidson would be in on the strength of a recovered Stephen Curry alone. But all signs point to Davidson heading to the NIT, where Curry will have one more chance to perform his magic in Madison Square Garden before heading to the NBA. 

We'll see how I did in a few hours.

What are your bracket predictions?

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14 March 2009

Pitino puts on free coaching clinic for Jay Wright

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/14/2009 02:20:00 AM
Louisville 69
Villanova 55
(box score)

#5 Louisville: 27-5 (18-2 BE)
#10 Villanova: 26-7 (14-6 BE)

Sometimes, it's just nice to watch a master at work -- even if the master is carving up your favorite basketball team like a sushi chef working on some rapidly spoiling fish.

On Friday night, Rick Pitino was that master, and he made Jay Wright his unwilling apprentice. Once again, Pitino showed why he was one of the top coaches in basketball history, official Big East awards hardware be damned.

Trailing by eight at the half, Pitino calmly gave a brief halftime interview to ESPN, then went inside the locker room to make the crucial adjustments. Jay Wright is very good at the media-friendly first part; experience is showing he may have to work on the latter issue a bit.

For the second game in as many days, Villanova collapsed epically in the second half. Just when you thought that it could not get any worse after Villanova surrendered a 16-point lead in the final 20 minutes of the Marquette game, the Wildcats allowed a similar 15-point swing against Louisville -- in under five minutes.

Villanova went from up eight to down seven in the first five minutes of the second period. In a game sandwiched at Madison Square Garden between two Herculean efforts from the Syracuse Orange spanning four halves and seven overtimes, Villanova quickly accepted its fate and folded before even thirty minutes of playing time had elapsed.

As an eternal optimist when it comes to Villanova basketball, I usually save the "game over" comments and text messages for when the game is truly out of reach, a tipping point that had to be re-calibrated after the Wildcats made up 15 points in two minutes against LSU last year.

Not tonight. It was clear that as soon as Louisville made its run, and then prematurely extinguished the Wildcats' response, that Villanova was done. Game over.

Some other fans quickly attributed the team's failure to "exhaustion," an argument that usually smacks of absurdity, but seems especially ridiculous considering Syracuse played the equivalent of three basketball games in 26 hours on the same court -- and won, too.

No, the reason Villanova was beaten so soundly and so thoroughly tonight had less to do with exertion than with preparation. The Wildcats were not ready to take the floor. Whatever plan Wright and his staff cooked up was totally obsolete by the time the halftime clock expired.

Villanova played right into Louisville's hands. First, the 'Cats had no effective plan to deal with -- surprise! -- Rick Pitino's world-famous press. Indeed, Villanova was forced to burn a timeout on its very first possession when Shane Clark was unable to inbound the ball after the game's first basket. That, in a word, is embarrassing.

It's not like Louisville's press worked to perfection on that first play: several Wildcats just stood around on the inbound. Were they not expecting Rick Pitino to press? That's like being surprised to learn that bears shit in the woods.

Second, Villanova left home on the defensive perimeter, time and time again, allowing Louisville to rotate the ball for open shots.

Despite the early signs of poor preparation, Villanova managed to eke out an eight-point lead in the first 20 minutes, largely because the Cardinals could not connect on their perimeter looks.

In the second half, two things happened that quickly turned the game. One, Louisville finally started making its open looks. Two, Villanova completed its complete devolution into a team that cannot handle the ball under pressure -- under any circumstances.

Villanova turned the ball over 23 times, often when the ball was not even being defended. A few times just the threat of pressure caused this ill-prepared Villanova team to throw the ball away.

Even when Villanova didn't turn it over, the offense was often rushed and pathetic. The Wildcats offered up a few "air-ball turnovers," or shots that have so little chance to go in they should just be counted as official turnovers.

You'd think after suffering from the full-court pressure in Villanova's home loss to Louisville earlier this season, Wright and his staff would concoct a few tricks to ease the pressure.

Well, if they did, it did not show tonight. Villanova absolutely withered under the Cardinal pressure, and put up little resistance on the defensive end, too.

Note to Wright and co.: Pitino does not hold a monopoly on the press. It is fully legal, even advisable, to respond to pressure with pressure of your own -- at least if your team is conditioned well enough to perform it.

Another perhaps faulty assumption the astute observer might make is that after seeing how frustrated the Cards became on offense when they weren't able to get open perimeter looks off the second pass, the Villanova staff would emphasize staying at home on the perimeter in the second period.

Pitino himself even admitted it at the half and after the game. He said his team suffers when forced to go one-on-one, and thrives when it can make the extra pass on the outside for a better look.

So why did Villanova's wing players collapse nearly every time in the second half, allowing jumper after jumper to swish through the net, erasing any hopes for the first Villanova Big East championship of this millennium?

The fact is that Louisville was better coached, better conditioned, and better prepared than the Wildcats, and that let the Cardinals turn an 8-point deficit into a 14-point win rather easily in a single half.

After the game, Wright praised Pitino's style. "We knew this was going to be tough when you're playing the Big East champions," Wright said. "I love how they play. "

I love how they play, too, Jay. My only hope is that maybe you were taking notes.

Congratulations to reader "Pretty Toney" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova now awaits its seed and first-weekend location, to be determined on Sunday night by the all-powerful NCAA selection committee.

My guess is that Villanova will be a #3 seed slated to play at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, which would mean its next game will be on Thursday against a #14 seed automatic-bid winner from a small conference.

Hopefully, Villanova will use the intervening week to get its act together enough to make a nice tournament run.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 38 min)

    Just an awful night for Reynolds. He could not find the bottom of the net (1-6) and missed all 3 of his three-point attempts. He committed a whopping 6 turnovers. The only things saving Reynolds from the dreaded "F" are his 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals. Reynolds was hounded on Friday by Louisville's pressure defense, but he will have to pick it up if the Wildcats want to play beyond next weekend.
    Grade: D-

  • Reggie Redding (S, 32 min)

    Despite Thursday's clutch finish, I've noticed that Redding has the tendency to either choke or disappear in big moments. He did a little bit of both Friday night, emerging from second-half obscurity to miss two key free throws that would have brought the 'Cats within 5 and completed a 5-0 Villanova run. Redding was 1-3 from the field, and an inexcusable 1-4 from the foul line. At least he didn't have any turnovers. Redding added 6 rebounds but just 1 assist -- so much for Jay Wright's designation of Redding as the team's "best playmaker."
    Grade: D

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 29 min)

    Anderson shot relatively well while his teammates struggled. He often benefited from an off-balance Cardinals defense -- at least when the Wildcats managed to get the ball across halfcourt. Anderson was able to connect on some nice jumpers while shooting 5-8 overall, including 2-4 from the three. He added 5 rebounds and 2 assists. His decent shooting night was sullied, however, by his 4 turnovers.
    Grade: C+

  • Corey Fisher (26 min)

    Fisher shot well on Friday but simply could not take care of the ball. Seven turnovers...ugh. Here is where I can't blame the loss entirely on the coaching. While it's true that Fisher had an uphill battle to break the Cardinal pressure without (seemingly) much help from the sidelines, there still is no excuse for him to throw the ball away so many times. Fisher shot 4-8 from the field, including a good 3-5 from the three. He was a perfect 3-3 from the line, as well. He dished out 3 assists, grabbed 2 rebounds, picked up 2 steals, and scored 14 points. Very decent numbers, except for the 7 turnovers.
    Grade: D+

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 24 min)

    Cunningham had a very nice first half, but then disappeared in the second, mired by foul trouble. I don't know why he sat for so long in the second half -- what was the worst that could happen, Jay? We were already getting crushed; so what if Dante fouls out? In his 24 minutes, Cunningham played well. He shot 5-11 from the field, and was a perfect 4-4 from the foul line. He pulled in 9 boards and committed just 1 turnover. The foul trouble, however, was killer, because Cunningham was such a big part of the team's offense.
    Grade: B

  • Corey Stokes (23 min)

    Stokes couldn't find the stroke from the three (1-5) or from the field in general (1-9) tonight. He did pull in 6 boards, but he committed 2 turnovers, and did not collect any steals, assists, or blocks.
    Grade: D

  • Shane Clark (S, 21 min)

    Just a dreadful night for Clark. Airballs (plural.) Two big, memorable turnovers. Just 2 rebounds in 21 minutes. Clueless ball handling. Bad inbounding. Clark shot 0-6 from the field, but was a decent 5-6 from the foul line. Not enough to move the grade up from the floor, though.
    Grade: F

  • Antonio Pena (6 min)

    Pena missed his only shot and collected just 1 rebound in 6 minutes. He didn't get much of an opportunity tonight, but he did very little in the brief time he was out there.
    Grade: D

  • Incomplete grades: Russell Wooten (1 min).

  • Did not play: Frank Tchuisi (CD), Jason Colenda (CD), Maurice Sutton (RS).

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13 March 2009

Villanova faces Louisville in Big East semifinal

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/13/2009 02:43:00 AM
#10 Villanova (26-6) vs. #5 Marquette (26-5)
7 p.m., 13 March 2009 at Madison Square Garden


Line: Louisville -4.5

Villanova survived its scare with Marquette on Thursday to advance to the Big East tournament semifinal, where it will face the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals.

While the Wildcats needed a buzzer-beating Dwayne Anderson layup on a broken play to get past Marquette, Louisville had a much easier time with the Providence Friars in Thursday's early game.

With Oklahoma losing on Thursday, Louisville will have that much more motivation to advance to the BET finals and earn a one-seed in the NCAA tournament. Pitt and UConn are both out, so Louisville has a chance to argue that it finished ahead of both of those likely one-seeds in the regular season and the championship tournament.

Villanova needs to keep winning for a shot at a 2-seed, though the Wildcats are most likely now assured of a 3-line and the Philadelphia date that will probably accompany it.

Take a look at the other five 'Nova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then come back into our comment section to predict the final score.

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Villanova beats Marquette at buzzer

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/13/2009 02:40:00 AM
Villanova escaped Madison Square Garden on Wednesday with an unlikely one-point victory over Marquette, 76-75.

The Wildcats won the game on a dramatic Dwayne Anderson layup that beat the buzzer, but not before rolling around the rim for a few revolutions after time expired.

Villanova had led by 16 at the half before blowing that entire margin in the second period.

With the win, Villanova goes a long way in securing a top-3 seed in the NCAA tournament, and the increased likelihood of playing the first round in Philadelphia that goes with it. By stealing this game by one point, the Wildcats avoided being a part of the day's rampant carnage in the top-15 -- Clemson, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pitt, and UConn all lost. (Losing in six overtimes is still a loss, although it feels closer to a tie.)

Villanova now looks to have secured a 3-seed in the big dance, with a 2-seed within reach if the Wildcats keep winning.

No grades for this game, since I just got back from New York, and the Louisville game starts in 15 hours.

If you want to see what I thought of the game, check out the intermittent Tweeting sent in from my mobile phone during the game.

Congratulations to reader Mills for most closely predicting the final score.

Next up for the Wildcats is #1 conference seed Louisville in the first semifinal on Friday evening.

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12 March 2009

Villanova opens BET vs. Marquette

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/12/2009 02:17:00 AM
#10 Villanova (25-6) vs. #21 Marquette (24-8)
2:30 p.m., 12 March 2009 at Madison Square Garden


Line: Villanova - 2.5

Villanova will play its third game of the season against Marquette today when the two teams meet in the quarterfinals of the Big East championship tournament.

The Wildcats were seeded into the third round thanks to their top-four finish, while Marquette received just one bye. The Golden Eagles reached the quarterfinal round by demolishing St. John's on Wednesday.

The two teams split their season series, with Marquette winning in January and Villanova coming out on top in February. Both teams held serve at their respective home-courts.

Marquette is without its star point guard Dominic James, who had a history of burning the 'Cats these past four seasons.

Both teams are solidly in the NCAA tournament and are now playing for seeding. With a win, Villanova puts itself in prime position to earn a top-3 seed and a bus trip to Philadelphia for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Take a look at the other five 'Nova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then come back into our comment section to predict the final score.

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10 March 2009

Fisher, Cunningham, Wright win Big East honors

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/10/2009 06:12:00 PM
All of the Big East Conference awards have now been announced, and Villanova did very well for itself, earning some nice accolades across a variety of categories.

Villanova backup point guard Corey Fisher won the Big East's 6th Man award, which goes to the player who makes the greatest positive impact off the bench.

This site has been saying for a long, long time that Fisher should get more minutes, and this award seems to validate that position. Unless the player is a 6th-man specialist like Manu Ginobili, winning the 6th man award probably means the player should be starting!

Still, it's a nice honor for Fisher, whose improvement this year has brought Villanova much success.

Speaking of improvement, Villanova's senior forward Dante Cunningham was named the conference's Most-Improved Player on the year. Cunningham has stepped up his scoring output this season after playing a more limited offensive role his first three years.

Villanova's head coach Jay Wright earned Big East Coach of the Year honors. Although it is hard to see how Marquette's Buzz Williams did not win this award, Wright's COY honors are a nice acknowledgment of the team's success this year after a somewhat slow start.

Villanova opened the conference play by losing two of its first three games, but the season really picked up after the Wildcats were able to beat then #3 Pittsburgh in the last college basketball game ever at the Spectrum. Villanova now sits poised to earn a top-4 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Wright's selection as coach of the year is not something I necessarily agree with, given the questionable substitution and end-game strategy decisions made this year, but it is still nice for Villanova to take home the award. Wright and Villanova last won Big East COY in 2005-2006, when Villanova earned a #1 seed in the NCAA torunament.

Dante Cunningham was also named to the All-Big-East second-team, and junior guard Scottie Reynolds earned a Big East Honorable Mention.

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06 March 2009

'Nova clinches double bye with Prov. win

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/06/2009 01:51:00 AM
Providence 80
Villanova 97
(box score)

Providence: 18-12 (8-10 BE)
#11 Villanova: 25-6 (13-5 BE)

Villanova flexed its offensive muscles on Thursday night as the Wildcats exploded for 97 points to defeat Providence in the year's final game at the Pavilion.

With the win, Villanova secured an all-important top-four finish in the Big East, and the two days of byes that go along with it. The Wildcats will now be seeded all the way into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament on Thursday.

Villanova also maintains its position as a potential top-3 seed in the NCAA tournament, which is crucial if the Wildcats would like to play the first two rounds in their home-away-from-home at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

It was an excellent offensive game for the Wildcats, who scored 57 points in the second half and shot well overall. Scottie Reynolds, Dwayne Anderson, and Corey Fisher all played outstanding games for Villanova, and the 'Cats looked unstoppable when all their weapons were blazing.

Providence finishes the regular season with an 18-12 record, which normally might not earn a team an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament. The Friars, however, are 10-8 in the country's best conference, and boast a premium win over then-#1 Pittsburgh.

Conventional bracketology wisdom suggests that Providence would have been a lock with a win over Villanova, but will now need to win one at Madison Square Garden to have a good chance on Selection Sunday.

Congratulations to reader "bosshoghazzard" for most closely predicting the final score.

Villanova now has a full week off to prepare for its post-season. After a grueling Big East season, I am sure the rest will be welcome.

According to the official bracket (PDF), Villanova will next take the court on Thursday at 2 p.m. In practice, however, the game always starts later than that, closer to 2:30.

Villanova will face the winner of the #5 vs. #12/#13 game, which will most likely be Marquette.

On to the player grades. "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 36 min)

    Reynolds continued his scorching shooting ways tonight, shooting an excellent 9-13 from the field. He also put in an outstanding performance from the three, hitting 5-9, or the equivalent of shooting 83% from the two. He did miss both his free throw attempts, which is a bit troubling, since his free throw shooting seems to be dropping off a bit lately. Reynolds added 4 steals, 4 assists, and just 2 turnovers. Let's hope Scottie can continue his hot streak through the entire month of March.
    Grade: A

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 36 min)

    Positives tonight were 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. The negatives, however, were substantial. Cunningham shot a dismal 8-17 to get those 19 points, including several missed jumpers that he probably should have passed on altogether. He missed 4 of his 7 free throw attempts, as well. Cunningham also led the team in turnovers, with 5, committing a whopping 71.4 percent of the team's turnovers despite playing 18 percent of the team's minutes. If you haven't surmised this already, I really hate turnovers, especially by forwards. Perhaps worst of all, however, was Cunningham's defense, which was uncharacteristically soft tonight. Cunningham allowed at least three uncontested lay-ups or dunks. All in all, the positives save this grade from the dreaded "F," but it was nonetheless one of the worst games for Cunningham of the season.
    Grade: D

  • Reggie Redding (S, 31 min)

    Redding was Mr. Pass tonight, dishing out 11 of the Wildcats' 26 assists. Those assists definitely earned him 31 minutes, but Redding's normal reason for playing so much, defense, was lacking tonight. Redding was responsible much of the night for covering Weyinmi Efejuku, who lit up the Wildcats for 29 points. Redding was not fast enough to stay near Efejuku at all, which could bode ill for the Wildcats against teams with similar star players. Aside from his excellent passing night, Redding had little other statistical impact. He shot 1-3 to score 2 points, and added 0 turnovers, steals, or blocks. He grabbed 2 rebounds. Those 11 assists go a long way to make up for a terrible night defensively, but it still was not much better than average for Reggie.
    Grade: C+

  • Corey Fisher (27 min)

    Twenty-seven minutes are more like it for Fisher, unquestionably the team's most potent sparkplug. I'd prefer his minutes get up to the mid-thirties, but I guess it's one step at a time for Wright. Fisher shot 3-9 from the field, including 1-3 from the three, to go with his excellent 6-6 performance from the foul line. He handled the ball perfectly, dishing out 6 assists while committing 0 turnovers. His defense was outstanding, and he grabbed 4 steals. He was quick enough to stay with anyone on the perimeter, as well. It was a nearly perfect game for Fisher aside from the slightly reduced scoring output of 13. Fisher showed tonight he could have an excellent impact on the game even while not making many baskets, and this should finally (hopefully?) earn Fisher some more minutes in the post-season.
    Grade: A-

  • Corey Stokes (21 min)

    Stokes was a major force in this game. He continued his hot shooting from the three, hitting 3-5. He also used his good height and strength to grab 4 rebounds and 1 block. He played decent defense, and added 1 steal. I think 21 minutes tonight was a big under-utilization of Stokes. Imagine how hard it will be for Villanova's opponents to contain the Wildcats with all four of Stokes, Fisher, Reynolds, and Cunningham firing on all cylinders. In order for this to happen, Stokes has got to get the minutes to heat up and stay effective.
    Grade: B+

  • Shane Clark (S, 20 min)

    Clark was not at all effective on offense (1-5 shooting, no foul attempts, no assists), but was a little better on the defensive end. Clark had 2 steals and 5 rebounds in his 20 minutes. I'd like to see 10 of his minutes go immediately to Stokes, but you have to admire Clark's hustle.
    Grade: C

  • Dwayne Anderson (S, 17 min)

    Anderson, troubled by early fouls, still managed to score 19 points in 17 minutes, which is excellent. And he shot very well, 7-11, 3-5, and 2-2. Anderson, who had missed his 12 prior three-pointers before the game, is the ultimate streak shooter, and it's great to see him take those shots when he is hot. He also added 7 rebounds in just 17 minutes: compare that to Cunningham's 8 in 36. Anderson also added 3 assists, 1 block, and 4 steals in a phenomenal effort, playing half the game. If we extrapolate what his line would have looked like with 35 minutes, we get 39 points, 14 rebounds, 8 steals, 2 blocks, and 6 assists! Of course, it would have been difficult for him to maintain that pace, but what a game for Anderson despite the fouls.
    Grade: A

  • Antonio Pena (9 min)

    Just 9 minutes, but a bit of a resurgence for Antonio Pena. He shot a good 2-4, showing intelligent awareness and spacing on the offensive end. He also was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line. He added 1 rebound, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in his very limited time.
    Grade: B

  • Incomplete grades: Frank Tchuisi (1 min), Jason Colenda (1 min), Russell Wooten (1 min).

  • Did not play: Maurice Sutton (RS).

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05 March 2009

Live blog for Providence tonight

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
3/05/2009 11:55:00 AM

#11 Villanova (24-6) vs. Providence (18-11)
7 p.m., 5 March 2009 at the Pavilion.


Line: Villanova -10.5

Join Let's Go Nova tonight at 7 p.m. for a special regular-season finale LIVE BLOG.

Fire up your fake usernames and outlandish comments, Let's Go Nova nation, as it is time once again for a very special live weblog tonight. We begin at 7 p.m., so don't forget to get here early with your comments, questions, opinions, and pleas for me to permanently stop blogging, forever.

Villanova closes out its regular season with a Pavilion game against the Providence Friars.

Providence might be the quintessential NCAA tournament bubble team. It's got a decent resume, but it's probably not in the field of 65 yet. The Friars might need to do a bit more work to really feel comfortable on selection night, and they still have the Big East tournament after tonight to do it.

The Friars, thus, could lose tonight and still dance, so they might not be as desperate as the Wildcats' last opponent, Notre Dame. But many bracketologists think Providence could lock up a spot with a premium win at Villanova tonight.

The game is equally important for Villanova, which now controls its own destiny for the coveted double-bye in the Big East tournament. With a victory tonight, the Wildcats earn themselves an extra day off next week and an automatic seed into the conference quarterfinals in New York.

VIllanova also has more important NCAA seeding issues to consider. The Wildcats must stay on the #3 seed line in order to get a good chance at playing in Philadelphia on the first weekend. With a win tonight and a 1-1 performance in the conference tournament, Villanova should hold up on the #3-line.

One month ago, Villanova won a close decision at Providence, 94-91.

For tonight, KenPom predicts a 14-point Villanova margin, with an 87 percent chance of victory.

Take a look at the other five 'Nova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then come back into our comment section to predict the final score of the last regular season.

See you at 7.

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