Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! Villanova put together their seventh win of the season last night in a classic “Tale of Two Halves” type of game against the Syracuse Orange.
Villanova had a tough time hitting open threes in the first twenty minutes, as can be the case when you live and die by the three. These weren’t bad shots, it’s what the Syracuse zone is designed to give up. But despite not being able to hit shots after an initial flurry by both teams, Villanova stayed true to its defense, keeping it a one score game into halftime.
Then in the second half, Villanova started getting better zone penetration, shots started falling, and we were treated to this lovely sequence:
The steal...— Jimmy V Classic (@TheJimmyVClsc) December 8, 2021
The SLAM! @NovaMBB has opened up a 10 point lead with under 4 minutes to play #VWeek pic.twitter.com/dpsMuKaeeW
There’s not much not to love about this. A great steal by Collin Gillespie, a strong finish at the rim by Jermaine Samuels, and Justin Moore right there with them to make sure they finished the play. What I love most about this wasn’t the execution, the dunk, or even just that this seemed to be the moment the game was officially put out of reach for Syracuse. The best thing about this play was that turning defense into offense is what hyped those three players up more than anything else they did all game.
That’s been a staple of Villanova for a while now, pride in defense. It’s what keeps them in games when the “shoot ‘em up, sleep in the streets” mentality has shots not falling. But if you look at the numbers, the defense has just as much to do with Nova’s success this season as the offense. Sure, the Wildcats are ranked 4th in KenPom.com‘s offensive efficiency, but they’ve also held opponents under 60 points in six of nine games this year including five of their last six. The only teams able to crack that threshold were a pair of Top 5 teams away from home and a Howard squad that got hot shooting 50% from deep.
Villanova is now up to #33 in the country in defensive efficiency, and that’s going to be a driving force for them moving forward when the offense sputters. But when both offense AND defense are humming, very few teams are going to be able to slow this Wildcat team down.
And lastly before the links, let’s check back in on the results of yesterday’s poll question of Slater vs Swider:
These two weren’t exactly torching the nets, as Slater was just 2-15 from the field and Swider was 2-7. But one of Swider’s baskets came from deep, and so congrats to the 22% of you that picked Swider as he edged out his former classmate 5-4.
In other news, Jay Wright isn’t a fan of playing against former players, Bridges thought he was headed to New York, and Andy Talley was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Enjoy!
Villanova defeats Syracuse
Jay Wright, Collin Gillespie talk Cole Swider transfer, old Big East & preview Syracuse-Villanova | Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician
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The eight remaining coaches in the FCS playoffs may have a wide range of experience coming into the quarterfinal round but they all have one thing in common: success.
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Tennessee basketball was abysmal offensively in a loss to Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.
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