The Villanova Wildcats are headed to the National Championship game after routing the Oklahoma Sooners 95-51.
The Villanova Wildcats are championship bound and if they play the way they did against Oklahoma, there is absolutely no team on the face of the planet that can stop them in that quest for the second national title in school history.
At least on paper, this was supposed to be a tough match-up for the Wildcats, who Vegas favored by just two. But that’s why the games aren’t played on paper. They’re played on the court and on the court, Villanova was simply unstoppable.
In NRG Stadium, a building that is notoriously known for holding teams to low shooting percentages (44.5 in 12 games, 65.4 average PPG), Villanova matched its season high in points with 95, shooting 71 percent from the field, the highest mark of this year’s tournament. It was so good that Villanova, the second best free throw shooting team in the nation, almost shot as well from the floor as they did from the line (73.7%).
Buddy Hield, a national player of the year candidate who was averaging 25.4 points on the season and a tournament-high 117 points, was held to just nine, his second lowest output of the year. This was of course due to Villanova’s shutdown zone defense which has dominated guys like Hield and Kansas’ Perry Ellis now in back-to-back games.
And when it came to forcing turnovers, Villanova won that battle too, collecting 12 steals, one more than they had against Kansas and causing Oklahoma to surrender the ball a total of 17 times.
The Wildcats not only outrebounded the Sooners, they out shot them from all areas of the court. Their bench play was better, their starters were better. They forced more turnovers, committed less fouls, recorded more assists. Not one single element of the box score was not won by Villanova. Actually that’s not true, Oklahoma did win the battle of the offensive boards so at least there’s something to hang their hats on.
In the second half, the Wildcats scored 53 points while holding the Sooners to just 23. This contributed to Villanova’s all-but impossible 44 point victory, the most in this year’s tournament by five points and the most in Final Four history by eight.
It was quite simply the best, most complete and most dominant half in college basketball this year and undoubtedly one of the best of all-time. There was nothing Villanova did poorly save for not being perfect, which quite frankly, they were probably as close as one would expect a team to be.
All but two players who logged minutes scored points, including, yet again, double digits from all but one of the starters, and from two bench players, Phil Booth (10) and Mikal Bridges (11).
Josh Hart led the way going 10-of-12 and totaling 23 points and eight rebounds, followed by 18 and 8 from Kris Jenkins and 15 points from Ryan Arcidiacano. All three scoring more than Oklahoma’s top guy, Jordan Woodard who finished with 12.
Offensively, Villanova has been the best team of the tournament, leading the way in overall field goal percentage and putting forth the largest total margin of victory, a accomplishment they had before the Oklahoma 44. But in the past two games Villanova’s defense has been just good.
Against Oklahoma, both the offense and defense came together for the first time this tournament and it resulted in something that would make any opposing team shudder in fear. Because if Villanova can do it again, can just for one more game play its best offense and defense, it doesn’t matter who they play in the national title game, they will win it.