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. #3 Miami Hurricanes
March 24, 2016
Tune in to the VUHoops’ screening of the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament between #2 Villanova and #3 Miami 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
No. 2 seed Villanova routs Miami in South semifinal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Villanova Wildcats keep looking for a better shot, not content with simply a good look at the basket.
As a result, they’re putting on quite the clinic in the NCAA tournament with their latest performance putting them into the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009.
Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins each scored 21 points and No. 2 seed Villanova never trailed in routing third-seeded Miami 92-69 Thursday night in the South Region semifinal of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats turned in their best shooting performance yet in this tournament, shooting 62.7 percent.
“If any team is shooting the way we’re shooting right now, they’ll easily be the most dangerous team in the country,” Villanova senior forward Daniel Ochefu said. “But hopefully, we’ll keep shooting like that, so we can keep playing the way we are.”
The Wildcats (32-5) earned their third trip to the regional final with coach Jay Wright and seventh overall, coming through with former coach Rollie Massimino, who led Villanova to the 1985 national championship, sitting nearby.
Villanova will play either top-seeded Kansas or No. 5 seed Maryland on Saturday in the regional final. It’s redemption after losses on the opening weekend each of the past two NCAA tournaments.
”These last couple years and a couple early exits wasn’t the best thing for our program, but I think we just remain humble and try to get back,” Arcidiacono said. “It’s just a great feeling.”
Ochefu added 17 points, and Josh Hart had 14 for Villanova, which shot 62.7 percent (32 of 51).
Miami (27-8) now is 0-3 in this round and 0-2 with coach Jim Larranaga.
Miami got here by beating a pair of double-digit seeds, Buffalo and Wichita State. Villanova showed the team from the Atlantic Coast Conference why the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in program history earlier this season. It was the first game between the teams in the NCAA tournament, and the first overall since March 2004, when both teams were in the Big East.
They turned in a dizzying first half with both teams shooting 64 percent — or better — from the floor and were even sharper beyond the arc where they combined to hit 13 of 19.
”Look at the numbers, it’s kind of crazy to think that was good defense,” Wright said. “But I’m very proud of the second-half defense. When you play great teams like Miami, that’s going to happen. We just got more stops than them.”
Villanova led 43-37 at halftime with Jenkins coming through with the highlight shot of the game, knocking down a 3 with his left foot on the edge of the logo covering midcourt that instantly drew comparisons online to shots by reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
Villanova took control from the start by scoring the first eight points. The Wildcats also forced Miami into a bunch of turnovers early and scored some easy points off those mistakes. Villanova took its biggest lead at 29-14 on a 3-pointer by Jenkins with 8:35 left.
”It was a bit of a surprise they came out on fire like that,” McClellan said.
When Miami put together a 16-2 run that pulled the Canes within 31-30 on Rodriguez’s layup with 4:33 to go, Jenkins simply hit another 3. Miami never got that close again, and Villanova just padded its lead over the final minutes with each dunk or 3 giving Wildcats’ fans yet another reason to cheer.
Ochefu said he knew Jenkins could knock down shots from well beyond the arc. But he had never seen Jenkins try such a shot in a game. “I know I was running back on defense, and I looked at Darryl (Reynolds). We both got eye contact like `Wow!’ That was Steph range,” Ochefu said.
Villanova takes the fight to Miami and into the Elite Eight
BY C.L. BROWN
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Need any more proof that this Villanova team is different from the ones that provided past NCAA tournament heartbreak? Look no further than Daniel Ochefu’s play to start Thursday’s second half.
That’s when the Wildcats broke open a tight game and gained the cushion they’d keep in their 92-69 victory over Miami to advance to the South region final. Nova will face the winner of Kansas-Maryland.
Ochefu appeared to tweak his knee while defending Miami’s Tonye Jekiri on the first possession of the second half. He limped down the floor.
He limped from posting up in the paint to set a screen for Ryan Arcidiacono. He didn’t even have the strength to roll to the basket, although he had a clear path and likely easy score. He stood stoic around the free throw line, wincing in pain.
Oddly enough, he had the ball anyway with the shot clock running down and was forced to launch it before the buzzer sounded. He made a set shot with Jekiri sagging in the lane.
Miami point guard Angel Rodriguez appeared to have sensed Ochefu’s injury. On the ensuing trip down the floor, Rodriguez drove past his defender and went right at the 6-foot-11 senior center.
Bad leg and all, Ochefu did enough to alter Rodriguez’s shot, and Nova coach Jay Wright was able to sub him out of the game.
Ochefu’s exchange summed up the entire game for the Wildcats. They appeared to make every hustle play and grab every loose rebound.
The Wildcats had one of the worst offensive-rebounding percentages of the teams in the Sweet 16, but Thursday, they snatched nine of their 19 missed shots — or 47 percent — which was well above their season average of 28.4 percent.
Villanova might advance to the Final Four in its game Saturday, but judging from Thursday’s victory, it won’t be because the Wildcats aren’t fighting to get there.