Thursday, March 18, 2010
Nova Survives in OT; BYU over FL in 2OT; Old D. Ousts ND
BYU, which had led by as many as 13 points, needed two overtime periods to post a rare win for the Cougars over the Florida Gators, 99-92. Jimmer Fredette, one of the highest scoring players in the nation, was on the money for 37 points. The Cougars will face the winner of the Kansas St.-North Texas match-up in the West region.
Old Dominion dealt with Notre Dame's slowdown "burn" offense and added their own defensive touches, holding the Irish to 37% shooting and star Luke Harangody to a 2-for-9 effort and 4 points. The Monarchs march on to the second round with the 51-50 win.
Villanova needed to get a slew of questionable calls from the refs plus overtime in order to advance past a very capable Robert Morris squad, 73-70. The Wildcats were down by as many as 9 points and trailed the Colonials throughout the game. Villanova took 40 trips to the foul line, in comparison to just 26 for Robert Morris. Villanova played poorly most of the contest, though Scottie Reynolds managed to pull the Wildcats even late in regulation by making almost all of his free throws in the second half. He could have given Villanova the lead with under a minute remaining, but missed his only free throw of the game.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Scottie Reynolds Goes Off as 'Nova Rips Louisville
Squandering a 17-point first half lead, the Louisville Cardinals could not stop Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, as the Wildcats tore up the Cardinals in the second half - outscoring them 56-41 - en route to a 92-84 win.
Reynolds was nothing short of magnificent, hitting all five 3-point shots and 9-of-10 overall, adding 13 of 17 from the foul line for a season-high 36 points. He scored 16 points in the final 6 minutes of the game, boosting the #4 Wildcats to a 15-1 record and a 4-0 mark in the Big East. Their only loss was a 75-65 loss at Temple in December. Since then Villanova has reeled off 6 straight wins, including a pair of 2-point victories over Marquette.
Reynolds leads the Wildcats in scoring at 18.8 points per game and is tied for 5th in the Big East with South Florida's Augustus Gilchrist.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Villanova 5-0 After Puerto Rico Wins
One of the favorites to win the Big East, the Villanova Wildcats have already stamped an early-season mark by winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with wins over George Mason, Dayton and, in the championship game, Mississippi.
With the tourney wins, the #5 Wildcats improved to 5-0, including a relatively easy, 79-67, defeat of the SEC Rebels.
Scottie Reynolds scored a season-high 22 points, Corey Stokes chipped in with 18 and Antonio Pena dominated the interior, hitting 8-of-13 shots for 17 points in addition to hauling down 16 rebounds. Pena's totals were both season-highs for the 6'8" junior forward.
NOTABLE: Forward Gani Lawaltotaled 17 points and 13 rebounds and Zachery Peacock led his team with 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting, as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets topped Boston University, 85-67, in one of three consolation games at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday.
Friday, April 03, 2009
Final Four Analysis (Part 2) North Carolina vs. Villanova
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
(1) North Carolina (32-4) (-7, 158 1/2) (3) Villanova (30-7) 8:47 pm - The dark horse from the Big East, Villanova, is also possibly the most balanced and talented team overall from the conference. It's fitting that they'll face off with North Carolina, as both teams possess very subtle, but important similarities. Both teams are solid in the backcourt, strong up front, rebounds well and has no single player without which they cannot survive, though it could be argued that if Carolina is without either point guard Ty Lawson or forward Tyler Hansbrough, or the Wildcats are missing Dante Cunningham or Scottie Reynolds, their games would suffer on both ends.
So, there are the first and second similarities, at point guard and strong forward, where the Tar Heels seem to have edges. While Reynolds is as fine a point guard as can be found, Lawson is simply extraordinary, a gifted ball-handler with speed and quickness that has yet to be matched in this tournament. Where Reynolds evens things out, however, is in the strength department. Lawson probably won't be able to handle Reynolds man-to-man, and that could cause trouble for North Carolina. It's easy to see how both point guards will be able to penetrate into the lane and raise havoc. In that regard, the matchup becomes a draw.
In the power forward area, Tyler Hansbrough has a heft advantage over Cunningham. He is the more physical of the two, though Cunningham has better range and is quicker on his feet, so once again, the edge, if there is one, is marginal. Both players can play to their strengths within the offense. Look for Cunningham to set up either at the foul line or on the wing away from the basket. From either of those positions, he can either aid the offense with ball movement and screens or, should he so choose, shoot over Hansbrough while also drawing him away from the basket.
When Hansbrough is on offense, he'll want to be active in the low post, where he can hope to overpower his opponent for layups and dunks or feeds to his teammates for the same.
Cunningham will stand his ground, though he's not going to get a whole lot of help from teammates, and Carolina can also go very large, inserting either of their big freshmen, 6'10" Ed Davis or 7'0" Tyler Zeller. 6'8 Deon Thompson starts and plays much bigger. Compare those beasts with what Villanova puts on the floor. Cunningham is 6'8", Dwayne Anderson checks in at 6'6", and sub Shane Clark is 6'7". Also crashing the board will be Reggie Redding, who goes 6.5", but the Tar Heels have an obvious height edge in the lane.
A wild card in this game, as he usually is, is Danny Green, who lit up Oklahoma for 18 points in the Tar Heels' 72-60 win. Green is a do-it-all kind of player who will stick his nose in anywhere, can get out on the break, hit jumpers and rebound with the big boys. His counterpart on the Wildcats is Anderson, who has had some big games during the tournament, is seasoned and capable of guarding the best athletes on the floor. Again, whatever advantage North Carolina has with Green, it is offset by the defensive abilities by the corresponding Villanova player.
If there's an edge in terms of coaching, it has to go to Roy Williams, who is making his 7th appearance in the Final Four and has a championship ring, earned in 2005 with the Tar Heels. Villanova coach Jay Wright is the only coach in the Final Four (his first) without an NCAA championship. Williams has an experience edge. Wright will get some here.
In the final analysis, North Carolina looks indomitable on the inside and, with Lawson healthy, he's going to be difficult for even Reynolds to contain. The overall size and depth of the Tar Heel bench, plus the smarts of coach Williams makes North Carolina the team most likely to advance. Villanova's defense and heart will keep them in the game and not allow the Tar Heels to establish a huge runaway lead, but down the stretch, North Carolina has the players who can come up with the really big plays in Lawson, Hansbrough and Green. They're no lock to cover the spread, which will probably come down to the final minutes and free throws vs. three-pointers, but they seem capable of prevailing. The Over/Under is an equally risky proposition, as the oddsmakers seem to have that number nailed.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 85 Villanova 75
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Regional Finals, Elite Eight Picks
University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)
(1) Connecticut (30-4) (-6, 150) (3) Missouri (31-6) 4:40 pm EDT - Don't believe that Missouri's win over Memphis was a kind of fluke or that Memphis wasn't a high quality team. Nobody wins 27 straight without doing something right, but the Memphis Tigers ran into a bengal of another stripe in Missouri, one which pressed and contested every pass and dribble, throwing Memphis off their game. Even then, Memphis hung in, finally succumbing, 102-91, the highest-scoring game of the tournament, which says plenty about the quality of both teams.
Missouri can click on offense when it gets contributions outside of Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, which it did Thursday as J.T. Tiller whipped and whizzed through the Memphis defense like a gyroscopic genie out of its bottle. Tiller led Missouri with 23 points on 10-16 shooting and his slashing style will be paramount in getting to the tin against UConn's shot-swatting Hasheem Thabeet.
Missouri must push the ball into the lane in order to be successful against Connecticut, hoping to get Thabeet into foul trouble. That seems to be just about the only way to slow down the 7'3" center - limit his playing time to under 25 minutes - and Missouri, with Tiller, Lyons (who will be on Thabeet's hip through most of the proceedings), and Carroll, all of whom love to mix it up underneath, possesses the right kind of offense.
The Tigers should create havoc for the Huskies on defense as well, their pressure style making it difficult for UConn to get into their offense early. The Huskies are basically inept from beyond the arc, so Missouri may find some opportunity to mix up the half-court defense with box-and-one, man to man and maybe even a 2-3 zone look. That will clog the lane, and the Tigers will be a force on the boards against the statuesque Connecticut big men.
UConn's win over Purdue was an ugly thing, despite the statistical edge in most categories. While the Huskies shot a respectable 45% from the field, A.J. Price and Jeff Adrien, the two players who took the most shots, were a combined 8-for-28 and only Craig Austrie was able to hit a three-pointer, canning all three of his attempts. He's not likely to repeat that against Missouri. The Tigers will likely allow Adrien to shoot form anywhere beyond 10 feet, as he has all of the touch of a sledge-hammer on a railway line.
Long story short, Connecticut simply doesn't have enough quality pure shooters to remain competitive for long at this level. Consider their pair of losses to Pittsburgh an early warning sign that they may not be the best fit for a Final Four jumpsuit. Missouri is on a mission, and the Huskies will find their timing thrown completely off and their shooting to be wanting.
PREDICTION: Missouri 85 Connecticut 82
East Regional Finals, Saturday, March 28
TD Banknorth Garden (Boston, MA)
(1) Pittsburgh (31-4) (-2, 142) (3) Villanova (29-7) 7:05 pm EDT - Every game for Villanova seems to provide matchup difficulties and tough-to-call scenarios, but the Wildcats keep winning, increasing their margin of victory with each successive foray into the tournament - 13 over American, 20 over UCLA and 23 over Duke, possibly their most dominant performance of the season. Jay Wright's Wildcats are peaking at the right time and are ready for a real cat fight with the Panthers.
The Panthers and Wildcats met once during the Big East regular season, in the last game played at Philadelphia's Spectrum, and besides home court, the Widlcats also had the luxury of keeping Pitt insider DeJuan Blair on the bench with foul trouble for most of the game, coming away with a 67-57 win. The Wildcats won't likely find the same fortune on Saturday. Blair has been amping up his inside game and will be a rock in the lane.
Pitt has not been impressive in their first three wins, beating East Tennessee State by 10, then Oklahoma State by 8 and finally getting past Xavier by 5, thanks almost exclusively to point guard Levance Fields' heroic 3-pointer and steal and layup in the final minute. That kind of storybook ending is also not probable against the Wildcats and their steady stream of upperclassmen. All of their starters are juniors or seniors.
The Panthers will try to get offense from Sam Young, but the Villanova players have seen Sam's deft ball fakes and he'll not likely have the same measure of accommodation he's had against less-experienced foes. Fields will match up with Scottie Reynolds, who may have an edge over the shorter point guard. The Wildcats role players, Dwayne Anderson, Shane Clark, Reggie Redding and Corey Stokes also appear to be more in their team's flow and better able to contribute than Pitt's Tyrone Biggs, Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown.
Not that it's going to be easy (though it might be), Villanova simply is playing better than just about any other team right now and should move on to the Final Four.
PREDICTION: Villanova 75 Pitt 71
Midwest Regional Finals, Sunday, March 29
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)
(1) Louisville (31-5) (-7, 138) (2) Michigan St. (29-6) 2:20 pm EDT - In what could be either the biggest mismatch or the biggest upset of this round, The Louisville Cardinals, champions of the Big East, tangle with the Big Ten's regular season champion, Michigan State. The Trojans have been underestimated before, but they ranked in the top 10 nationally almost all season, and did what they had to against Kansas on Friday night. Point guard Kalin Lucas stepped up in the second half and outplayed the jayhawks' Sherrod Collins, and he may have the upper hand again against Louisville's Andre McGee and Edgar Sosa, though that is where Michigan's advantages may end.
Louisville is playing at an emotionally high level, matching their outstanding talent and in Earl Clark, Terrence Williams and Samardo Samuels, probably have the best front court in the nation. If Sosa or McGee can get them the ball, they will likely be too much for the Spartans' Goran Suton, Raymar Morgan and Delvon Roe to handle.
Michigan State is also very young. Only one regular, Travis Walton, is a senior, while only one of Louisville's starters - Samuls, a freshman - is not an upperclassman. Both teams get after it well on defense, but Louisville is less appreciated for it than are the Spartans. Just in terms of size alone, the Cardinals should control the lane and establish a rebounding edge. If they are able to shoot anything close to 50% from the floor against Michigan State, they'll be on their way to Detroit and into the Final Four. Louisville's 103-64 dismantling of a hopelessly overmatched Arizona team in the regional semifinals sent a clear message to the remaining teams that Louisville is serious.
PREDICTION: Louisville 74 Michigan St. 59
South Regional Finals, Sunday, March 29
FedExForum (Memphis, TN)
(1) North Carolina (31-4) (-7, 164) (2) Oklahoma (30-5) 5:05 pm EDT - In one of the most highly anticipated matchups of this or any tournament, Tyler Hansbrough and Blake Griffin will go toe-to-toe in the low post. Hansbrough was last season's college player of the year, and Griffin is the leading choice for the same honor this season. Whoever survives that encounter may find themselves on the way to more glory in the Final Four.
Carolina is a perennial contender at this level, and it's no surprise that they're seven point favorites. Oklahoma doesn't get to this point often, but they have a dynamic offensive team beyond their superstar, Griffin, and they match up very well with the Tar Heels in every aspect, except possibly at point guard, where Ty Lawson is in a league of his own.
The Tar Heels have an edge in terms of margin of victory, a combined 78-51, and nobody's come closer than 14 points (LSU in the second round). That's important, because it demonstrates just how explosive North Carolina is. Oklahoma is a solid team, but if Hansbrough can keep Griffin somewhat in check, it's hard to see how the Sooners can match up for an entire 40 minutes against the Tar Heels. Besides Hansbrough and Lawson, they also have players like Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Deon Thompson, who can create their own shots. There's also legendary Roy Williams coaching this squad, which gives North Carolina one more huge advantage.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 91 Oklahoma 78
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Big East Stunner: West Va. Rocks Pitt
If they don't win another game at Madison Square Gardent, the West Virginia Mountaineers have made their case for inclusion in the NCAA tourney field, whipping #2 Pitt in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
Freshman Devin Ebanks scored a career-high 20 points and led the team in rebounds with 7 as the Mountaineers took a 2-point lead at half time and extended it to a double-digit advantage which they maintained throughout most of the second half. The Mountaineers' defense did a number on Pitt's DeJuan Blair, limiting the forward to 14 points and 5 rebounds in just 18 minutes as the All-American candidate was in foul trouble throughout. Pitt's point total was one of their lowest of the season.
Alex Ruoff scored 18 points, and Da'Sean Butler chipped in with 16. Pitt and west Va. had spilt home and home games during the regular season.
The Mountaineers can get to the finals by beating Syracuse tomorrow night.
In other quarterfinal action, Villanova slipped by Marquette, 76-75, on a last second layup by Dwayne Anderson. It was Anderson's only basket of the game. The Wildcats meet the winner of the Syracuse-UConn game in the other semifinal Friday.
Scottie Reynolds led all scorers with 21 points and Corey Stokes added 20.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling; Longhorns Rebound
Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points and hit 6 of 7 3-pointers, leading the 12th-ranked Wildcats past stumbling Notre Dame. Reynolds had one of his best games of the season, adding a pair of steals, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Running mate Dante Cunningham provided 18 points and 8 rebounds.
The win left Villanova at 24-6 overall, and 12-5, good for 5th in the Big East. For Notre Dame, the loss may have sealed their post-season fate. The Irish are 7-10 and 16-13 overall, records not likely to land an NCAA bid.
Texas 73, Baylor 57
Following a 59-68 road loss at Oklahoma St. on Saturday, Texas solidified its post-season intentions with a home win, improving to 20-9 (9-6 Big 12), while dropping Baylor into NIT territory at 7-10 and 17-12 overall.
The Bears, after a 3-1 start in conference play, have dropped 9 of their last 11.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Hansbrough Sets NCAA Mark in GaTech Rout; Villanova Upset
Consequently, the #4 Tar Heels raced to a 46-33 halftime lead, going on to a thorough thrashing of Georgia Tech, 104-74.
The first half may have been the best of the season for North Carolina. While Hansbrough put up monster numbers, nine different Tar Heels scored and they committed just one foul through the first 20 minutes while shooting 46% and going 10-10 from the foul line.
Hansbrough finished with a game-high 28 points, setting an NCAA record in the process, by becoming the player with the most free throws made in a career, breaking Wake Forest's Dickie Hemric's mark of 905. Hemric's total stood for more than 50 years, but Hansbrough surpassed that mark when he made a foul shot with 14:54 to play.
Georgetown 56 Villanova 54
Georgetown (15-12, 6-10) probably isn't going to get an NCAA invitation, though they surely think they can make life in the Big East. Limiting Villanova to 29% first half shooting, the Hoyas took a 32-27 lead at the break.
Despite the poor shooting, the Wildcats never lost their poise and kept chipping away at the Hoyas' lead, getting to within 2 points at 52-50 with under five minutes to play. Both teams missed numerous shots, keeping the score the same until Cory Stokes made one of two free throws to cut the lead to one with 1:15 remaining.
Georgtown's Chris Wright made it 54-51 with 47 seconds left and the Wildcats were forced into desperation fouling. Stokes hit a three-pointer with 3 seconds left, but it was too late. Villanova lost for just the second time in their last 11 games and it was only their third loss at home this season.
Villanova fell to 21-6 and 11-5 in the Big East, eliminating them from contention for the conference title.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Sunday's Best: Villanova, Illinois, Xavier, Clemson
The Syracuse Orangemen were looking to avenge an earlier 102-85 loss at Villanova and reclaim their right to an NCAA bid, but, at the same time, the Wildcats were seeking to win for the 8th time in their last 9 games. The Villanove win left the Syracuse post-season plans largely in limbo.
The Wildcats led most of the first half and into the second, when Syracuse went on a 14-2 run to grab a one-point lead, but Villanova went on an 11-0 run midway through the second half to regain the edge, 68-59.
The Orange were feeling comfortable on their home floor, however, getting back ot within 3 points with under 6 minutes to play, but the Wildcats quickly rebuilt a 9-point lead. Undeterred, the Orange cut the lead to 2 points with 15.8 seconds left but misfired on four straight three-point tries after Reggie Redding made one of two free throws.
Syracuse hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since downing then-#12 Notre Dame on January 17, though they had previously beaten Florida, Kansas and Memphis. The loss leaves syracuse at 7-7 in the Big East and 19-8 overall, but they still need to prove themselves either in their season finale at Marquette on March 7 or in the Big East tournament.
Illinois 70 Ohio St. 68
The Buckeyes are another team insecure in their tournament future as they sought to upend the visiting Fighting Illini, but Illinois proved they were better than an earlier 49-67 home loss to Ohio State, as sophomore forward Mike Davis led the scoring with 20 points on 11-14 shooting while taking down 8 rebounds.
Illinois improved to 22-6 overall and 10-5 in the conference, trailing 10-3 Michigan St. and 10-4 Purdue. Ohio State drops to 7-7 in the Big 10 and 17-8 overall. The Buckeyes have lost three straight.
Clemson 81 Georgia Tech 73
Trevor Booker scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and K.C. Rivers added 19 as the Clemson Tigers improved to 22-4 and 8-4 in the ACC. They are tied with Florida State at 8-4, behind 10-3 North Carolina in the ACC standings. The Tigers will be joined by either Duke or Wake Forest (both 7-4) pending the outcome of the Duke-Wake Forest game tonight at Durham.
Xavier 71 George Washington 53
The Musketeers easily dispatched with another Atlantic-10 opponent, retaking the conference lead at 10-3 after the Dayton Flyers (9-3) were upended Saturday by St. Louis. Xavier had five players in double figures to end a stretch in which they lost three of four.
Their work still not finished, Xavier heads to St. Joseph's on Feb. 26, has a rematch with Dayton on March 5 and closes out at Richmond on March 7.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Wildcats On the Prowl; Claw Marquette, 102-84
Villanova took the lead with minutes remaining in the first half, heading into the break up by five and were never seriously threatened after that.
Reynolds set a personal home court season high on 10 of 17 shooting, including 5 of 11 three-pointers. He previously scored 40 at Seton Hall and 31 at Providence.
Corey Fisher scored 20; Shane Clark was a perfect 6-6 from the floor (3-3 on threes) for 16, Dante Cunningham had 15 and Dwayne Anderson added 10 points for 'Nova.
Jerel McNeil and Lazar Hayward led the way for Marquette with 23 and 20, respectively.
The win was Villanova's sixth straight, improving to 8-3 in Big East play and 15-4 overall. Marquette lost for just the second time in conference play, dropping to 9-2 and 20-4.
Villanova continues on a mini-scoring streak, notching over 100 for the thrid time this season and for the second game in a row. Over their last three outings, the Wildcats have scored 97, 102 and 102.
The Golden Eagles shot 51%, but the Wildcats were better, canning 59% in one of their best outings of the season.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Villanova Uprising Sinks Syracuse
Despite a poor 3-11 shooting performance from standout Scottie Reynolds, the Wildcats got plenty of scoring and hustle from the rest of their roster with five players - including Reynolds' 10 points - in double figures.
Corey Stokes scored 16 points, Shane Clark had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Corey Fisher had 14, Both Stokes and Fisher notched three 3s.
Villanova improved to 19-4 on the season and is now 7-3 in the Big East. Their losses have come against the most solid teams in the conference: Louisville (by one point), Marquette and Connecticut. A 67-57 win at Pittsburgh on January 28 is indicative of the Wildcats' mettle.
Meanwhile, the Orangemen are slipping quickly, having lost five of their last seven, all to Big east opponents. The Villanova loss was the second time this season that Jim Boeheim's troops have given up 100 or more points. Providence beat Syracuse 100-94, also on January 28.
Syracuse is now just 6-5 in league play and seems destined to drop out of the Top 25. That would leave the Big East with just 5 ranked teams: Villanova, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marquette, and, of course, #1 Connecticut.
While Syracuse struggles, look for Cincinnati to fill the void. On Saturday, the Bearcats dropped Georgetown in overtime, 64-62 and are 6-5 in the conference.
Another up-and-comer is West Virginia, a winner Saturday over Providence, 86-59, though the Mountaineers already have suffered defeat at the hands of UConn, Pitt, Marquette, Syracuse and Louisville. They are 5-5 in the conference and 16-7 overall.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Villanova slays Georgetown's giants
Last night, the Villanova Wildcats tore up the Hoyas at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, ending Georgetown's 7-game winning streak. Down by as many as 9 points in the second half, the Wildcats pressed full court and wore out the Hoyas, producing 22 turnovers and a 56-52 win.
The Wildcats earned the win by limiting ball access to Georgetown's 7'2" center, Roy Hibbert, who didn't attempt a shot from the field and finished with 2 points (2 of 6 from the foul line). Jeff Green, the Hoyas other inside force, was held to just 7 points.
Meanwhile, Villanova rallied, holding the Hoyas scoreless for a 6 minute stretch in the second half. Even more remarkable, Villanova outrebounded the Hoyas, 31-27. The surprising win was the first in Big East play for Villanova after dropping their first two to West Virginia and DePaul.