Editor's Note: First off, I apologize for the complete inactivity this week. There is no excuse, and I apologize. With that being said, tomorrow will be jam-packed with preview content before tomorrow's incredibly late start. Uh-huh.
Until then, learn it from an expert on the Villanova Wildcats, Pete from Lets Go Nova, simply the best Nova blog around. His answers are in the quoted text.
1) 1) Going into Selection Sunday, you guys were certainly on the bubble. In fact, I actually had you guys as my last team out, putting in Arizona State instead. So, on Selection Sunday did you expect to get into the Dance, or were you on the edge of your seat all day long waiting for the news?
We actually held a week-long bubble vigil on the site. After several important games went our way, I was fairly certain that with a split in the two Sunday title games (SEC and B10), Villanova would be in. We got the split and got one of the last spots in. It certainly was a little close for comfort, but personally I was fairly confident going into the selection show, if only because I spent most of the week prior analyzing the bubble to a degree far beyond even the traditional sports media.
2) Scottie Reynolds is clearly the star of the Villanova Wildcats, but who else should Jayhawk fans watch out for?
Freshman guards Corey Fisher (#10) and Corey Stokes (#24) could each go off. Fisher is a penetrating point guard who loves to get to the rim, while Stokes is a jump shooter. I would also suggest junior Dante Cunningham (#33), Villanova's best interior player, but Kansas's dominating front line should keep him in check. If Villanova gets down bigtime, might watch out for freshman guard Malcolm Grant (#3). Grant single-handedly won Villanova the LSU game in December, which was one of the biggest comebacks in college basketball history.
3) What is the Wildcats' biggest strength as a team? In other words, if the Wildcats pull off the upset Friday night and beat KU, it will be because of...what?
Guard play and defense are by far the team's best attributes. The only way Villanova beats the Jayhawks is if at least two guards explode and the Wildcats play good shut-down defense. Villanova cannot compete with Kansas's big men, but I like the Wildcats' chances if the game is a shootout between the guards.
4) On the same thread as #3; What is the Wildcats' biggest weakness?
The two biggest weaknesses for Villanova are interior offense and scoring droughts. When the guards are not hitting their jumpshots or dribble drives, the team can go long stretches without scoring, as there is little to no interior offense to speak of. Lately, fouls have also been troublesome for the Wildcats.
5) 5) Entering the season, and for much of the non-conference portion of the schedule, you guys were ranked and were fully expected to make the Tournament. However, after your five game losing streak, most expected you to be left out on Selection Sunday, and even if you snuck in to bow out in the first round. Given the high expectations entering the season, as well as the mid-year struggle, would you consider this season a success now that you are in the Sweet 16? Or did you expect to get this far all season long?
Looking at teams like Duke, Clemson, USC, and Vanderbilt, it's pretty clear to me that any time you make it to the Sweet 16, it is a success. to take it a step further, most fans considered the season successful when we made the NCAA Tournament, especially considering the mid-season struggles. Villanova has no seniors, so everyone should be coming back next year. Four straight NCAA trips and three Sweet 16s in the past four years sets the stage nicely for further postseason contention down the line. I can understand that for a team ranked all year in the top 5, like Kansas this year and Villanova in 2006, a Sweet 16 exit would be a bit troublesome, but this year for the Wildcats, we are happy to just be there.
6) How does the loss of Casiem Drummond, who broke his right ankle on Sunday and will be out for the season, affect Villanova?
The only real effect Drummond's injury has will be the front-court depth in terms of fouls to give. Drummond looked great early in the year before sustaining a stress fracture in December. With Drummond gone for the Kansas game, Villanova will have 5 fewer fouls to give in the frontcourt, but he was not a part of our recent rotation.
7) One last question: What do you see happening on Friday night?
The most likely outcome is a Kansas win, of course. If both teams play to their talent level, Kansas should win. But Villanova is one of the strongest 12-seeds in tournament history, and has the talent to run with anyone in the country. If 'Nova's guards get hot and the threes are falling, an upset would not be out of the question.
Again, tomorrow will be jam-packed with preview information, but until then skim Pete's blog (again Lets Go Nova) for some tremendous information.