Villanova has won their last four games by double digits. The difference in last night’s game was that it was against the #12 team in the country. Gonzaga hadn’t lost by double digits since the 2015 Elite Eight. So this wasn’t just beating a good team, this was the domination of a traditionally great team.
Villanova fans have been hoping for this game for a long time. Gonzaga has a lot of similarities to the Wildcats, and beating them was a great measuring stick for how good this team really is. But was it a great win? Let’s dive into the numbers to find out.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) - Villanova wins by 6.4%
Offense: Game - 60.3%, Season - 59.3%, Last Year - 57.5%
For the third straight game, six or more Wildcats shot 50% or better from the field. This team can just collectively kill you, even if it will likely be the team captains that are doing most of the scoring. Eric Paschall was the only starter that couldn’t come up with a basket in this one, but he was still perfect from the line. Any shooting concerns you had coming into this season can safely be put to bed.
Defense: Game - 53.9%, Season - 46.9%, Last Year - 46.1%
Gonzaga didn’t lose this one because they shot poorly. In fact, this was the best anyone has shot from the field against Nova all season. But that’s going to happen when you play one of the best offenses in the country. Gonzaga was able to find good shots, but this defense cut so many possessions short with turnovers that it didn’t matter.
Turnover Percentage (TO%) - Villanova wins by 9.6%
Offense: Game - 16.6%, Season - 16.1%, Last Year - 17.0%
Twelve turnovers isn’t great, but another 16% night is respectable. Tonight’s game was a bit faster than Nova’s normal pace, which could have slightly inflated the raw numbers. The only thing to nit-pick here was that Brunson had 3 turnovers to just 5 assists in 21 minutes. It was an off night for the team’s leader who got into foul trouble, but Nova needs him to stay cool under pressure. No worries here, more of a hick-up than an issue.
Defense: Game - 26.2%, Season - 21.4%, Last Year - 20.1%
Gonzaga had 19 turnovers, the most for Nova’s defense yet this season. To quote our friends over at The Slipper Still Fits, Mikal Bridges was “playing such strong defense that even the sound of his footsteps forced a Gonzaga turnover.” It was that kind of night, and turnovers continue to be a huge advantage for the Wildcats.
Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%) - Villanova wins by 2.3%
Offense: Game - 32.3%, Season - 30.9%, Last Year - 30.2%
O-Boogie led the way with three offensive boards on the way to his third career double-double. Nova shot pretty well in this one, so there weren’t a lot of chances to pad the stats in this category.
Defense: Game - 30.0%, Season - 23%, Last Year - 27.8%
Not the best rebounding night for the Wildcats, who ended the game just +1 on the boards. But hey, that +1 came on an offensive board, so I’ll take it. If you’re not going to win the game by rebounding, you better not lose it. Considering this is the best non-conference team Nova will play, I’ll take the slim victory.
Free Throw Rate (FTRate) - Villanova wins by 6.1%
Offense: Game - 46.5%, Season - 32.1%, Last Year - 41.8%
Normally I’d be thrilled by this huge uptick in free throws that didn’t involve any late intentional fouling. But the refs were sending everyone to the line for everything in this one, so this number can be thrown out as an outlier.
Defense: Game - 40.4%, Season - 20.5%, Last Year - 22.1%
Again, the refs were calling everything in this one, so don’t worry about the huge jump here. Villanova is still Top 5 in the country in keeping their opponent off the line.
Looking Ahead: La Salle Explorers (‘Nova 98% projected winner, 80-58)
Offensive Projections: eFG% - Nova, TO% - Nova, OR% - La Salle, FTRate - La Salle
The Cats return to Big 5 play on Sunday, this time at Wells Fargo. The Explorers are a decent rebounding team, so Nova may not get many second chances. Odds are though, they’re not going to need many.
Defensive Projections: eFG% - Nova, TO% - La Salle, OR% - Nova, FTRate - Nova
LaSalle is really good at holding onto the ball, which could negate the advantage Villanova exploited last night against Gonzaga. But that’s about all that the Explorers have been good at this year, as they rank in the 200’s nationally in eFG%, OR%, and FTRate.
Bottom line, there’s a really good chance that we’re looking at Nova’s 21st consecutive Big 5 victory.