We will get into some player-by-player previews a little later on, but for now here are some general thoughts and such about tonight's opponent, the #12 seed Villanova Wildcats.
Note: All information was obtained through KenPom's page on Villanova.
- There are huge discrepancies between their raw efficiencies and adjusted efficiencies, both for offense and defense. Without taking opposition into account they play like a CBI bubble team, posting mediocre rankings of 105 and 120 for offense and defense respectively. However, once adjusted the rankings rise to 61st and 36th, respectively. Just attributes to their difficult schedule, which was the 47th toughest in the country according to SOS.
- Tempo wise, they play faster than most, but not nearly on the same level as the Tar Heels. They average about 69.3 possessions a game on offense, fast enough to rank 87th in the country. This is encouraging news, in as many games we will have been forced to play a slow, methodical game against UNLV and a fast-paced, up-and-down game against Villanova. All to set us up for potential Final Four matchups against up-and-down North Carolina and rough-and-tumble UCLA.
- On offense, they do nothing spectacularly. They do pretty well on the offensive glass, ranking 58th in the country, and do a good job of getting to the free throw line and making them once they are there, shooting 73% from the line. They don't have a lot of oomph down low in the post, and because of that rank hideously low in blocks (322nd). And while they are portrayed as a three-point shooting team, which they are, they aren't particularly efficient from beyond the arc. They make only 35% of them, and rank 175th in the nation in that category. Nova will need an abnormally good shooting night to beat us, and not too many clubs shoot better than average against our suffocating defense.
- On the defensive side of things, they are much better than they are given credit for. When you hear Villanova, you think of four guard sets, three pointers and not a whole lotta defense. This certainly isn't the case, as they are a pretty good defensive ball club. Not up to UNLV's level, but certainly not a roll-over-and-let-em-score defense either. They are especially proficient at forcing turnovers, ranking 52nd in the country. This can most likely be attributed to the quick hands of their guards, as four of them (Dwayne Anderson, Reggie Redding, Corey Fisher and Scottie Reynolds) rank in the top 417 in the entire country in steal %. Anderson ranks 75th in the country himself. However, the one thing they struggle at is giving up the long ball, which seems odd considering their perimeter-heavy sets. Still, they struggle incredibly at defending the three-point shot, giving up an absurd 41% of threes on the year. That is only good enough to beat 20 other teams, as they rank 320th in the country. They will be the second worst three-point shooting defense we have faced all year, 14 spots ahead of the Ohio Bobcats, but are only 19 spots behind the 301st ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. We shot a combined 30-63 in those three games, or an astronomical 48%. And we won all three. So, despite Whitlock's concern, I think we shouldn't be shy to fire away from the three-point line and beyond.
- Some final random notes before we move ahead. They are one of the youngest teams in the country, ranking 324th in the country, and are the 4th greenest team that made the NCAA Tournament. And of those four teams, they are the only one still playing....Their bench is among the most played in all of college basketball, sucking up nearly 38% of the team's minutes. This is good enough for 39th in the country. They use their bench more than any other NCAA Tournament team still alive, after Western Kentucky's loss last night to UCLA, and 4th most of any team that made the NCAA Tournament. Who uses their bench the least? Texas.
More player-by-player preview stuff to come shortly.