Given the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Tournament, we have decided to use the next few weeks to look back and remember Villanova’s greatest tournament successes of the past. We will be walking through Villanova’s three National Championships on a game-by-game basis. So, as you’re locked inside quarantining and social distancing, share your thoughts, memories, and stories as we relive Villanova’s greatest moments.
#2 Villanova Wildcats vs. #7 Iowa Hawkeyes
March 20, 2016
Tune in to the VUHoops’ screening of the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament between #2 Villanova and #7 Iowa TONIGHT AT 7:00 p.m. EST.
The game should play simultaneously for all who are watching so please take part in the live game chat!
Link: VUHoops Re-Watch
Villanova back into Sweet 16 with rout of Iowa
NEW YORK — Finally, a Sweet 16 run for Villanova.
It had been seven years since the Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend, and led by their seniors, they moved on easily.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 16 points, Daniel Ochefu had 11 rebounds, and second-seeded Villanova beat seventh-seeded Iowa 87-68 on Sunday in the South Regional, the Wildcats’ first Sweet 16 appearance since they went to the Final Four in 2009.
Arcidiacono, Ochefu and the rest of Villanova’s seniors made it to the tournament’s second weekend for the first time. They were upset in the round of 32 the last two seasons and didn’t make it that far as freshmen.
”Great leadership by Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu,” coach Jay Wright said. “I’m thrilled for that senior class that they get to play in a Sweet 16.”
So are those seniors.
”It was definitely a big-time sigh of relief,” Arcidiacono said. “I was ecstatic that we won our game against Iowa because we know how good of a team they are. But I’m just happy for our senior class to be able to get to experience it.”
Ochefu, who said he heard the first question about the Sweet 16 last summer, was thinking of a lot of Villanova players.
”It means a lot for us and just for this program,” he said. “And for all the seniors that were here before us and molding us into the guys we are today, this one’s for them.”
The Wildcats (31-5) will meet third-seeded Miami on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I know it was always in the back of our senior minds and our team. But we definitely can go all the way as long as we stick to what we do.”
Villanova lost in the round of 32 as a No. 1 seed last season and as a No. 2 seed in 2014. But there was no doubt in this one. The Wildcats led 54-29 at halftime and by as many as 34 points in the second half. The closest Iowa (22-11) got was 16 points in the final minutes.
The Wildcats took command about 12 minutes in. While Villanova was hitting almost every shot — the Wildcats made seven of their first 10 3-point attempts — Iowa couldn’t come up with a basket to stem the tide.
The Hawkeyes went five minutes with a field goal, and Villanova took a 39-21 lead. It didn’t get any better for Iowa, and it couldn’t have remained any better for the Wildcats against the Hawkeyes’ zone.
Villanova, which wasn’t fazed in the least by Iowa’s midcourt trap, closed the half on an 8-0 run. The 54 points were the most the Wildcats have ever scored in a half in the NCAA Tournament.
”We were just hitting on all cylinders,” Wright said.
Villanova shot 60.6 percent in the half. Three players — Jenkins, Hart and Brunson — had already reached double figures.
Villanova had just four turnovers, none of which Iowa scored off, and it turned the Hawkeyes’ eight turnovers into 12 points. The Wildcats outrebounded Iowa 19-12.
Wright said he told Iowa coach Fran McCaffery when they shook hands: “Hey, I’m sorry. We haven’t played a first half like that in a long time.”
And the Hawkeyes couldn’t make a run in the second half.
”It’s hard to come back. You’ve got to make 3s,”McCaffery said. “We had good looks at it from 3. If we could have made a few, maybe it would have been a little bit different.”
The Wildcats had advanced to the second round with an 86-56 thrashing of UNC-Asheville while Iowa needed overtime to beat Temple 72-70 on a tip-in at the buzzer.
”I really think they can go a long way,” McCaffery said of Villanova. “They’re a really difficult team to guard. A lot of times, really talented offensive teams plays defense in spurts, and they don’t. They play defense equally as well as they play offense.”
Villanova sticks to blueprint to beat Iowa, rid itself of March woes
BY JEFF BORZELLO
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — No more second-round slip-ups for Villanova.
The Wildcats obliterated Iowa from the tip, opening up a 34-point lead in the second half en route to an 87-68 win and a Sweet 16 appearance.
When thinking about the Wildcats under Wright the past several years, it’s been all about the guards. Forcing turnovers at one end that lead to transition opportunities, plus penetration and kickouts on the offensive end. That was the blueprint against Iowa, and for good reason.
Iowa couldn’t keep the Wildcats’ perimeter players out of the lane, with Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono getting by their defenders at will. Once in the paint, Villanova would kick it out to an open 3-point shooter or swing it around until Iowa ran out of players to cover everyone.
Moreover, Villanova wasn’t as reliant on the 3-point shot on Sunday as it had been the past two seasons in the NCAA tournament — but the Wildcats were knocking them down consistently.
They hit 10-of-19 from behind the arc, but the shots came more as a result of dribble-drives moving the defense. In 2014, 60.7 percent of Villanova’s field goal attempts against UConn were from 3-point range; last season, 45.9 percent of the Wildcats’ shots against NC State were 3s.
Villanova wants the threat of the outside shot to open things up at the rim, and vice-versa. That worked to perfection against Iowa.
Defensively, Villanova’s smaller lineup hassled the bigger Hawkeyes into 13 turnovers, but the Wildcats turned that into 14 points — and an eye-opening 18-0 edge in fast-break points.
Wright expects his teams — regardless of whether they’re smaller — to be quicker, tougher and more aggressive than his opponents. Villanova was exactly that on Sunday — and now the Wildcats can put their NCAA tournament exits in the rearview mirror.