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Final thoughts on Villanova Basketball’s big win over #1 Kansas

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Saturday was a great day to be a Wildcat!

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! I think I’ve finally come down from all the excitement of being in the building on Saturday to watch the Villanova Wildcats take down the #1 team in the country... again! It was a fantastic win for Villanova who now gets a week off to celebrate the Holidays before returning to campus to kick-off Big East play against Xavier.

But before we completely move on from the Kansas game, I wanted to put out a few final takeaways from this game that go beyond stats. That’s right, Mr. Numbers over here is putting away his calculator for two seconds and giving you some insight that came 100% from watching the game in person.

Collin Gillespie IS a real deal Villanova point guard

The easy thing to point to here is the steal and score by Gillespie as his highlight play of the game, but he was by far the most impressive player on the court for Villanova all game. First off, no one on the team brings the kind of intensity he does. He has a controlled rage that he plays with, only letting it escape briefly when play stops in bursts of primal rages or cheers for his teammates. But when the whistle blows again, he remains incredibly focused on the task at hand, and is playing some really high IQ basketball.

His defense is miles beyond where it was last year. Not just because he’s improved physically, but his positioning is better and he’s picking his spots when to take swipes at the ball or body up the opposing player. He may not be the team’s best defender, but you simply don’t hear the same criticisms of his play that you did last year.

And on offense, he’s really become an excellent creator for his teammates. It’s evident every time he has the ball in his hands. He’s not moving to hunt for his shot, he’s moving to make the defense react. Then he makes smart plays off of their mistakes. The final Samuel’s shot is a perfect example. Collin drove on his man, but not down into the paint. Rather he pushed him to the center of the top of the key, enticing Samuel’s man to slide down to try to help and possibly double him. But before the extra defender could get there, Collin had already dished out to the wide open shooter to give Villanova the lead for good.

The defense is better, but it still has a long ways to go

I’m not the first person to say this, but Saturday’s game looked a lot more like bad offense than good defense. I felt myself saying time and time again, “That was lucky, Kansas won’t miss that shot in the second half”. It was clear that the Jayhawks wanted to use their size on the inside to get easy looks. While Villanova did a better job than I thought they would at denying the interior, Azubuike and McCormack still seemed to be able to get to the rim more often than not.

But once they got there, they simply missed shots they shouldn’t have. Granted, Villanova was missing wide open threes on the other end, so there was all kinds of poorly executed offensive finishes. I don’t know how to explain it other than to shrug and say “Freakin’ Noon games.” So no, Villanova’s defense wasn’t suddenly hold your opponent under 60 points amazing, but that said it wasn’t bad either.

I was most impressed with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. He really did a great job of doing everything he could to push larger players out of the paint and adjust shots at the rim without fouling. In fact, it very well could have been the effort and force he was putting on his opponents that was causing them to miss those bunnies at the rim. And I also have to say great job to the combined efforts of Saddiq Bey and Jermaine Samuels on Devon Dotson. That guy came into the day as a player of the year candidate, and Villanova’s best defenders made him look like a guy that couldn’t find his shot. Given how the Wildcats have struggled with perimeter defense this year, I was really impressed with those two.

I have some more thoughts on the game, Villanova’s freshman, and the upcoming Big East games. But given that we’re about to have a week off, there’ll be plenty of time for more content later. Enjoy the win Nova Nation, this is a great sign of good things to come!

In other “news”, the Big East dominated the Big 12 8-2, Villanova Women’s Basketball takes down La Salle, and everything you wanted to know about Villanova win over #1 Kansas. Enjoy!

Villanova Men’s Basketball

If you were watching, you saw Collin Gillespie’s huge impact for Villanova in upset of Kansas | The Inquirer
Gillespie played 35 minutes and 19 seconds, more than any of his teammates. He’d left the court for 11 seconds after halftime. When he finally left for good, the whole building was going nuts.

College Basketball Power Rankings - Can Gonzaga end revolving door at No. 1? | ESPN
The Zags take over the Power Rankings' top spot in a season so far without a dominant team. Villanova comes in at #12

Villanova defeats Kansas

Villanova At Center Of College Basketball World Again After Upsetting No. 1 Kansas | Forbes
Playing before a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd, Villanova staged a last minute rally to stun No. 1 ranked Kansas, 56-55 yesterday. It's one of seven games the Wildcats play at the Center, which has more than triple the capacity as the Finneran Pavilion, their on campus home.

How Villanova upset Kansas to down another college basketball No. 1 | SBNation.com
For the first time in college hoops history, five different No. 1 teams have lost before Jan. 1.

No. 1 KU falls to No. 18 Villanova on Samuels' 3-pointer | Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jermaine Samuels spotted up, let the ball fly and -- bang -- the 3-pointer swished, and some 20,000 delirious Villanova fans shook the arena. With time running

No. 18 Villanova Stuns No. 1 Kansas 56-55 Behind Jermaine Samuels' 15 Points | Bleacher Report
Another week, and another No. 1 team has gone down. No. 18 Villanova became the latest college basketball team to pull off the upset, earning a 56-55 win Saturday over No. 1 Kansas...

No. 1 goes down again as No. 18 Villanova upsets Kansas | NBC Sports
The curse of the top ranked team continued on Sunday. The Wildcats picked up a marquee win by as Villanova upset No. 1 Kansas, 56-55.

Experience pays off in Villanova's upset of Kansas | Sports | delcotimes.com
PHILADELPHIA — It wasn’t a surprise that Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and Saddiq Bey, three of the more experience players on Villanova’s roster, made the plays the Wildcats needed down

Quick observations from Villanova-Kansas game | The Inquirer
This was a different kind of game, a battle from start to finish.

Wildcats Knock Off No. 1 Kansas 56-55 | Villanova University Athletics
Jermaine Samuels sank a game-winning 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to help lift Villanova past Kansas Saturday.

Kansas vs. Villanova score: Wildcats upset top-ranked Jayhawks, the fifth No. 1 team to go down this season | CBSSports.com
Playing in its first true road game this season, Kansas goes down less than a week after jumping to No. 1 in the AP Top 25

Big East

Providence Needed This One In the Worst Way | Friar Basketball
Friar Basketball provides insight into Providence College basketball that you can't find anywhere else. The site takes an honest and insightful look at the current and future state of PC Basketball.

Seton Hall could be one of 8 Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament | nj.com
While Villanova coach Jay Wright was preparing for his own team’s battle with No. 1 Kansas on Saturday in Philadelphia,he couldn’t help but notice the shocking upset Seton Hall pulled over No. 7 Maryland on Thursday night.

'D' leads Xavier past TCU 67-59 in Big East-Big 12 finale | SFChronicle.com
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Xavier coach Travis Steele likes to say his defense travels, and it certainly made the trip for Sunday’s finale of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.

Villanova Basketball Alumni

Former NBAer and Paterson native to host basketball showcase in N.J. | nj.com
Former Paterson Catholic star Tim Thomas is back in New Jersey.

NBA Wildcats

Mavericks: Jalen Brunson named college basketball athlete of decade | The Smoking Cuban
Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson received a massive honor when he was named Sporting News college basketball Athlete of the Decade. Find out more here.

Raptors defeat Mavs to complete largest comeback in franchise history | Sports Illustrated
The Raptors overcame a 30-point deficit, the NBA's largest in a decade, to defeat the Mavericks on Sunday.

Villanova Women’s Basketball

Siegrist Dazzles as 'Cats Top La Salle | The Villanovan
Redshirt freshman Madison Siegrist led the Wildcats to a 77-69 win over La Salle with a massive 41-point effort on 68.4% shooting from the field.

Maddy Siegrist Scores 41 Points in Win at La Salle | Villanova University Athletics
PHILADELPHIA, PA. – In women's basketball action on Saturday afternoon, the Villanova Wildcats traveled to Philadelphia where they tallied a 77-69 win over the La

MLB Wildcats

Phillies agree to minor-league contracts with local products Phil Gosselin and Matt Szczur, two others | The Inquirer
With an extra spot on the bench beginning next season, all four players will have a chance to make the team in spring training.

Villanova Adjacent

Prince of Jersey: Pemberton leads Pride over Princeton | The Hofstra Chronicle
Princeton, NJ -- The Hofstra men’s basketball team went into Jadwin Gymnasium in Princeton, NJ and defeated the Princeton Tigers 87-72 on Dec. 19. With the victory, head coach Joe Mihalich passed Jay Wright on Hofstra’s all-time wins list with his 123rd win.

College Basketball

How this college basketball season went off the rails | Yahoo! Sports
It’s two months into the college basketball season and if you haven’t been watching, you’ve missed absolutely nothing. A PSA to casual basketball fans: Don’t turn on your TV until March.