Thursday, March 13, 2014

Addressing the emerging anti-Villanova narratives

 Sad face

Today's loss stung quite a bit, mostly because the team fought all the way back from being down by double digits fairly deep into the second half and nearly won, only to be shocked on a buzzer beating fadeaway jumper, one of the lower percentage shots on the entire court. The fact that Villanova lost to to Seton Hall, an inferior team that they had beaten twice this season by a combined 33 points is something we'll just have to live with. After the game, the reaction on twitter was largely predictable, with people overreacting to a single weird result rather than rather than judging a 28-4 team on its merits.

Yes, Villanova was slightly overrated in the most recent poll according to the most objective measure of a team's true ability, but they weren't so overrated that their ranking was an outlier.

Now is the time to set straight some narratives that emerged in the aftermath of the game, both from the Villanova fans and from the haters from places like SJU (PA).

Narrative one: "to live and die by the trey"

Yes, Villanova missed a lot of three pointers in today's game, including 12 of their first 13 attempts. According to some people, The 'Cats should have just stopped shooting them at that point. If they had stopped shooting threes at that point, they likely would have lost by even more points, as they positively regressed and made three of their final six attempts from beyond the arc. This game was lost due to shitty luck at the free throw line, with JayVaughn Pinkston, a player who goes to the free throw line a ton and was making 77.8% of his attempts headed into today's game going a miserable three for ten, and the team, who shot 71.6% for the regular season going 12-20 for the game. This bad luck was kind of expected, as the team was ninth headed into the game in the luck rankings, and they regressed negatively. Seton Hall was in the 300s and regressed positively.

Narrative two: "IT'S A TRAP!"

Research throughout various sports has shown that "trap games" are figments of imagination. This game was not a trap game, it was simply a case where a team that was previously extremely lucky was unlucky and a team that was previously extremely unlucky happened to be lucky.

Narrative three: "Nova sux lol"

The 'Cats have been a top 15 team all season in just about every measure aside from the top 25 polls, and that was only because they were unranked in the preseason. Before today, they had not lost a single game against a team that isn't currently ranked in the top 15 of the KenPom rankings. This was a matter of luck, as Villanova had gone 10-0 before today in games decided by less than ten points, which is unsustainable.

Narrative four: "It's JayVaughn Pinkston's fault"

This shouldn't even need to be addressed, because without JVP, this team would have ten fewer wins, and they played like absolute shit for the first half of the game. Did JVP miss some crucial free throws that hurt the team? Yes, he did, but let's not act like Villanova losing had more to do with that than it did with James Bell making none of his eight field goal attempts, Ryan Arcidiacono going one for five from three point range, or the fact that the team played like zombies for nearly the entire first half.

Villanova likely won't  be a one seed, and while that's a bit of a bummer, I can live with it, because they're a lock to go to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in ten seasons, and they're probably going to be a two seed. People need to remember that what happens in the weeks to come is much more important than what happens in this week. This is Villanova's first bad loss of the season, and it happened when the opposing team played its best and The 'Cats played unusually poorly. At this point, I'm pretty confident that this is an abberation.

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