To put it simply, Villanova was masterful in their domination of Lafayette in the first round on Thursday evening. North Carolina State will certainly be a tougher game, but how will things actually turn out?
How'd your bracket do? Is it busted like "you got caught speeding" busted? Or is it busted like "I tried to sanction myself but the NCAA brought down the hammer anyway" busted? (too soon?) Anyway, here's a look at some points that you need to consider heading into Saturday evening's game:
Wright talks Wolfpack
Villanova head coach Jay Wright sat down with the media in Pittsburgh to discuss NC State and they're talented squad.
Throw the seeding out the window
Yes, Villanova is a 1 seed. Yes, they shot 164% from the field last night. Yes, they had almost double the margin of victory of Kentucky. Forget about it.
NC State, while an 8 seed, is officially the start of the tournament where we can lose even though we're the better team. We saw two 14-3 upsets yesterday, and almost saw a 3rd. We saw North Carolina barely beat Harvard (even though Roy Williams is dominant in the Round of 64), and far too many teams play closer than they should have. The shots didn't need to fall on Thursday, but they did. On Saturday, the shots will need to fall.
You could easily say that the Wolfpack have a set of guards that rivals Villanova's. You could also argue, although this is certainly not obvious, that NC State's guards are actually better than Villanova's. Trevor Lacey is a true leader on this team, averaging 16 points per game, and shooting 39% from behind the arc. Anthony 'Cat' Barber is the starting point guard that leads the team in assists and gets to the free throw line early and often.
But the biggest X-factor in this game will be Ralston Turner. He has put up scoring totals of 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, and 33. He has also scored 0, 2, 4, 4, 5, and 5. Five separate times he has shot a double-digit number of 3-pointers, and he's shot anywhere from 20% to 50% on those days. Let him get hot and he will take Villanova down.
BeeJay could get Anya nerves...
There were lots of comments in previous threads about the ability for LSU's forwards to alter our shots and change our gameplan. Anya has the ability to do this as well. He's 4th in the country in block percentage- for comparison, LSU has just one person in the top 500.
The reason he doesn't become more of a threat, especially to teams like Villanova, is that he is extremely inefficient as a big man. His last six games have had him averaging 3.5 fouls-something that has plagued him his entire season, and he's not out on the floor enough to drastically affect the Wildcats' rebounding rates. But it's worth watching, because if the refs decide to call this game as a slugfest, then Anya might get away with some fouls, and it'll only take a few missed free throws on Villanova's part and a few clutch 3-pointers from Turner to cause the upset.
Overall, however, Villanova's offensive efficiency provides a significant advantage, and the fact that the Wolfpack defense is 8th-worst in the country at generating turnovers should aid the Wildcats' push for a Sweet 16 berth.