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NCAA Tournament Preview: Villanova awaits Mount St. Mary’s in Buffalo

The Wildcats will open their NCAA title defense against The Mount, after the 16-seed edged out New Orleans in the first four.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four-Mount St. Mary's vs New Orleans Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Mount had their hands full in their NCAA Tournament play-in game against the New Orleans Privateers, prevailing 67-66 to earn a date with Villanova on Thursday night. It was a close one all-the way, but Mount St. Mary’s led the entire game, leaning on point guard Junior Robinson’s 23 point performance.

What else is there to know about the Wildcats’ first round opponent?

Junior Robinson is the shortest player in the Tourney

At 5-5, the Mount’s point guard is not just going to be the shortest basketball player on the court on Thursday, but he was the shortest player in the entire Division I this season. Robinson is a key player for the Mountaineers, playing all 40 minutes against New Orleans, including some highlight plays.

He has averaged 14.1 points per game this season and just under 3 assists, averaging 41.7% from the field and 39.5% from beyond the arc.

Oh, and don’t let his height fool you, Robinson can dunk.

Elijah Long is the leading scorer for the NEC Champs

Their other guard, however, usually leads them on the scoreboard. Elijah Long averages 15.4 points per game to go with 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest; and the Mount won him over late in his recruitment — after he changed his mind about Florida Gulf Coast (also in this tournament) in April 2015.

Sophomore Long didn’t put a single digit onto the scoreboard in the first 30 minutes against the Privateers, however, and finished the contest with just 6 points. It was a rare quiet game from the Canadian-born guard.

Pressure defense is their game plan

Regardless of how things work out for the Mountaineers on the offensive side, however, they usually plan to bring the ‘mayhem’ — a brand of pressure defense that probably infringes on some of VCU’s trademarks. That defense generated 14 turnovers against New Orleans last night, and helped them to score 19 points. According to KenPom, it was the second-best defense in their conference this season — ranked 152nd in the nation.

Villanova’s defense ranks 12th, and their offense second — so it will take their very best mayhem to make history.