In a game where Villanova had a chance to take advantage of losses by three other top-10 ranked teams over the weekend, the curse of Hinkle Fieldhouse once again proved too strong to overcome. These are a few of the major things to take away from our latest Sunday matinée.
Slept in the Streets
We’ve had the opportunity to watch some really great shooting performances by Villanova this year. However, there have also been a few games where they haven’t shown up from behind the arc. This game was not only the worst of these cases so far this season — at a clip of 2-of-27 — it was the worst three-point shooting performance by Villanova in Jay Wright’s 20 seasons in charge.
Frankly, it’s impressive that Villanova shot that poorly and only lost by 12. But as we’ve seen in other games like those away to Creighton and St. John’s, these house-building conventions can quickly and painfully result in blowout upsets.
When Jay Wright’s slow-paced, chucking style is clicking, it’s hard to find a team in the country that can keep up with the ‘Cats. Now that we’re approaching Big East Tournament and March Madness time it is simply a matter of how many good days ‘Nova can string together in a row.
Not Coping with Fans?
I’ll admit, this is highly speculative and perhaps a little unfair. But since winning at Texas early in the season, the ‘Cats have played three games with fans in the building (@ Creighton, St. John’s, and Butler) and have lost all three in unimpressive performances of varying levels. Creighton’s a good team that can beat anyone, but losing to St. John’s and an underwhelming Butler team are more concerning data-points.
Of course, these three conference losses also coincide with a few of the ‘Cats three worst shooting performances of the season. Especially against Butler, other aspects of the team’s performance were not particularly below-par. Is the team having trouble finding the mark having to adjust back to having fans in the stands?
Antoine in the Rotation Once Again
For the second game in a row, Jay Wright decided to include the oft-unused Bryan Antoine in the rotation. While the sophomore only played six minutes on Sunday, they were serious first-half minutes Jay could have easily given to Cole Swider or Brandon Slater had he felt like it.
Unfortunately, as the game started to get out of hand in the second half, Wright chose to lean on his more experienced starters and bench players. As much as I’m rooting for Antoine to find his groove this season, that probably wasn’t an unreasonable decision by the coaching staff. But hopefully, this second showing in a row is a sign he’ll keep getting chances to impress as the regular season comes to a close.
What Comes Next
The ‘Cats have two more regular season games left (vs. Creighton on Wednesday, @ Providence on Saturday) and despite this loss still have a chance to hold on for another Big East regular season title. With teams playing different amounts of conference games, the title will be awarded by winning percentage.
While Villanova still needs to beat Providence and Creighton needs to beat Butler, Wednesday’s matchup is probably one with the conference title on the line. If Creighton does not go 2-0 in their last two games, they can’t pass Villanova. However, if Creighton beats Villanova but loses to Butler, the ‘Cats can claim the title with a win vs. Ed Cooley and the Friars.