Villanova vs Milwaukee: Keys to Victory

The Villanova Wildcats will take on the Milwaukee Panthers in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. March 20th. Tip is scheduled for 9:25. The game will be televised on TBS.

On Sunday, the Wildcats gathered with students and alumni to watch Selection Sunday on campus at the Connelly Center. The Wildcats were selected as a #2 seed in the East Region. Virginia is the #1 seed in the East Region, while Iowa State checks in as the 3 seed, and Michigan State as the 4.

The Wildcats finished the season at 28-4, the most wins in school history in the regular season. They played 9 teams in the regular season that heard their names called on Selection Sunday. Villanova is in the tournament for the 7th time since 2006 and 34th time in school history.

The Wildcats haven't played a game in a week, after being bounced from the Big East Tournament by Seton Hall 64-63. It was a crushing loss for the Wildcats, as they came back from a 13-point deficit, and eventually lead in the final minutes. Ashton Gibbs hit a step back, Kemba-like, game winner to send the Wildcats packing. Unfortunately, it was a short stay for Villanova in NYC.

The Cats are eager to get back on the hardwood.

"We hate that feeling and we don’t want to feel that feeling again, so it’s more motivation for us to keep pushing, no matter what," freshman guard Josh Hart said.

"We’re definitely counting the days down to get back on the court. We have a bad taste from that game."

As for Milwaukee, they are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, when the Panthers knocked off Oklahoma in the first round before losing to Florida. They're 3-3 all-time in the tournament.

The Panthers were picked to finish last in the Horizon League Preseason Poll. Surprising a lot of people, they finished the season with a record of 21-13, and won the Horizon League Conference Tournament. Milwaukee became the first 5-seed ever to win the conference tournament.

They played one team in the regular season that is currently in the field of 68, Wisconsin. The Panthers lost that game by 26 points.

The coach of the Panthers, Rob Jeter was extremely happy with the toughness and resilience of his club following their Horizon League Tournament Championship.

"Everything has seemed to come together," coach Rob Jeter said, wearing the other net around his neck. "There hasn't been anything they've slacked in. That's the toughness that's required to represent the Horizon League as champions.

"We never rattled."

Here is how the teams have performed in some statistical categories:




Points per game



Rebounds per game



Assists per game



FG% / 3P%

45.9% / 36.1%

43.3% / 32.7%


Get out to a fast start

Villanova has to get out to a fast start and put Milwaukee away early. In the Wildcats most recent loss to Seton Hall, they got out to a slow start and ultimately trailed the Pirate by double digits before taking the lead late in the game. It gave the Pirates a ton of confidence that they can hang with the then #3 Wildcats.

"We deserved it, coming out in the first half like we did," Hilliard said. "Just got to set the tone. We didn’t set the tone in that game at all and it came back to bite us. It was our fault and it won’t happen again in Buffalo."

Villanova is far superior to Milwaukee, but in college basketball anyone can beat anyone, and in this case, with one loss you go home. Villanova needs to come out and play like the #6 team in the country and cannot let their opponent hang around.

Don't Look Ahead

Villanova would face a familiar opponent with a win on Thursday. Everyone is talking about Villanova potentially playing St. Joes in a rematch of the Holy War or former Big East foe Connecticut. Uconn was a member of the Big East from 1979 until last year.

"That would be cool," Villanova junior guard Darrun Hilliard said. "UConn was part of the old Big East. That would be a great matchup, some good old Big East basketball.

"St. Joe’s would be another great game. The Holy War is always a historic event. We’re just looking forward to Milwaukee right now, but if we see either of those teams, it’ll be a great game."

My point is that with all the hype leading to those potential games, Villanova may look ahead and take Milwaukee lightly. They need to continue to have their ‘one game at a time' mentality if they are going to advance far in the tournament.

Stay in Front of 5' 10'' Senior PG Jordan Aaron

Villanova has to be able to cut off dribble drive penetration from the Panthers, and specifically Jordan Aaron. Villanova tends to struggle with quick guards who can beat you off the dribble, which creates kick outs and open looks from 3. Here is an example from the Seton Hall game. This happened nearly 10 times in the loss to the Pirates. The Cats CANNOT allow this to happen.



Aaron, on the season, is averaging 15 points a game while shooting a mediocre 37% from the field.

Paint points/touches

Villanova is much more talented and more physical than Milwaukee. The Wildcats should get the ball on the block to either JayVaughn Pinkston or Daniel Ochefu on a high percentage of possessions. They should be able to dominate the interior. When Villanova struggles, it is usually because of their outside shooting. If they can be under their season average of 25 3's a game, that will be a good sign. There is no reason the Wildcats should be taking a ton of 3's when they can dominate down low closer to the basket against a team like Milwaukee. With all the talk about the bigs, the guards should also look to attack the basket and get in the lane because that creates everything for everyone else on the floor.

Prediction: Villanova defeats Milwaukee by a score of 87-61.

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