Villanova is in relatively uncharted territory now. The 'Cats haven't been this far into the postseason since 1985 -- and for a school that doesn't go through coaches very quickly, that was two coaches ago. Monday's game against North Carolina will be an immense moment for the program.
For Jay Wright, it will be his fourth time coaching against the Tarheels -- the prior three all came in previous NCAA tournaments, 2005, 2009, and 2013. UNC won all three meetings, and went on to win the title in two of them. So there is plenty hanging on the line, beyond just a chance to cut down the nets.
Here are a few things to watch for on Monday night:
Defense should be a factor
Villanova and UNC are the two top teams for offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, with UNC taking the top honors, scoring 123.7 points per 100 possessions. The Wildcats have scored 122.0 points per 100 possessions this season.
Defense wins championships, however, and Villanova is one of the top defensive teams in the country. Ranked 6th in the nation by KenPom.com, Villanova holds its opponents to 91.9 points per 100 possessions. UNC is no slouch defensively, but ranks notably lower at 23rd, allowing opponents 95.2 points per 100 possessions. Villanova's defense has been it's driving force in this tournament, but UNC's powerhouse offense will give them a big test.
Neither team turns the ball over much. If Nova can dig in and force errors from UNC that other teams haven't this season, it will be a huge advantage.
UNC didn't sweat the Syracuse pressure
Syracuse worked hard to try and get back into the game with UNC, pressing and trapping, trying to force errors that never came. The Tarheels were fast and skilled and generally just prepared to play offense against a tough pressing defense.
"We expected them to press. That's what we wanted them to do," Brice Johnson told reporters. "At the end of the day, that's the way we want to play the game. If you look at the results, we got a bunch of layups out of that situation. We did a great job of just playing the way we know how to play."
The Heels' front court could be trouble
UNC dominates on the offensive glass, they rank third in the nation in that category on KenPom.com. The Wildcats are an average team when it comes to defensive rebounding, and rank 209th in the country on the offensive glass.
That doesn't matter much if the shots are falling in, of course, but when they miss, UNC's front court could give Villanova's roster some trouble. Forwards Kennedy Meeks (6'9"), Brice Johnson (6'9") and Justin Jackson (6'8") are all among the Heels' key players on this run. Johnson is their top scorer at 17.1 ppg, while averages 12.2 ppg an Meeks chips in a little over 9 points per. Johnson also cleans up on the boards, averaging 10.5 per game.