Monday, February 11, 2013

Bracket Buster: Villanova-Cincinnati Primer

Tomorrow night, Villanova will travel to Cincinnati to face a team that is a slower paced, rich man's version of themselves. Both teams in tomorrow's game have defenses that could conceivably be considered nationally elite and offenses that are top 100, but still not elite. I'm not going to anoint this game a must-win for Villanova, but they are still in need of a good road win, and they cannot afford to lose many more games.

With that said about the necessity of the win, it must be said that Villanova will not be favorites in this game, and I would expect that Cincinnati will be 5-7 point favorites. That makes this game all the more imperative to win though, because beating teams where you're a demonstrable underdog is something that can really bolster an NCAA Tournament resume*. If I were to guess, Villanova needs 21 wins to firmly place themselves in the NCAA Tournament because of the one win against a non-division one team.

As for individual players on Cincinnati's team that Villanova needs to contain, it begins and ends with Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright, who combine or almost half of the offense for the Bearcats. In games where Villanova has won this year, they've generally done a pretty good job of shutting down the other team's excellent players, which they've obviously struggled to do in games they've lost to teams that are better (and worse) than them. Cincinnati is also similar to Villanova in that they turn the ball over a lot, so Villanova needs to make sure that the turnover margin is relatively even, because Villanova will have a much harder time winning if they turn the ball over at a rate similar to their season average while not forcing turnovers on the other end.

*Just as a side note, I think it's absolutely awesome that we're even talking about the possibility of Villanova making the NCAA Tournament after the clusterfuck of last season, and the rough start this year. All of this is a true testament to the job that's been done by the coaches and players this season. They deserve all the credit in the world for that, especially the players who have stepped up in the second half of the season and played huge, specifically Darrun Hilliard. I actually think that if this team can click off the wins necessary to make it to the Big Dance that they'll be able to get into the second weekend since defense is the single most important factor in NCAA Tournament success, and this team can play it.

1 comment:

  1. Like your thinking - fingers crossed!