Observations: Villanova’s defense rendered UNC’s big men obsolete

Villanova’s ability to hold both Kansas and Oklahoma to under 60 points in back-to-back games was beyond impressive, but their performance on Monday night in the NCAA Championship Game was also a thing of beauty.

The Wildcats’ ball pressure made it nearly impossible for the Tar Heels to get the ball inside and pound the Wildcats in the paint.

North Carolina’s four big men — Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Joel James — combined for 41 points and 24 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Syracuse.

On Monday against Villanova, that quartet only combined for 22 points and 19 rebounds.

That’s all you need to know.

Phil Booth did for Villanova what Ricky Moore did for UConn in 1999

Seventeen years ago, Ricky Moore came out of nowhere to score 13 points and help Jim Calhoun win his first national title when UConn beat Duke 77-74.

Phil Booth did something similar for the Wildcats on Monday night against North Carolina.

The sophomore guard came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points and made 6-of-7 shots from the field and 6-of-6 shots from the free throw line.

There’s absolutely no way that Villanova would have won a national title without him.

Jay Wright has again owned a special situation in the NCAA Tournament

The veteran coach drew up a brilliant play for Scottie Reynolds when Villanova beat Pitt in the 2009 Elite Eight and he shined again Monday night against North Carolina.

With the game tied at 74 with under five seconds to play, Wright put together a scenario where Ryan Arcidiacono went the length of the court and kicked it back to Kris Jenkins for the game winning shot.

The result?

All net.

A national title won by the Wildcats and a heartbreaking loss for the Tar Heels.

This is the second time that Wright has come up big when his team had its back against the wall in the NCAA Tournament.

The term “power-five” is officially dead when it comes to college basketball

This national title was extremely important for Villanova, but it was also important for the Big East Conference.

Realignment altered the perception of college basketball in a lot of ways and this national title validates the Big East as a legitimate league alongside all of the other top tier conferences in the sport.

Villanova has had some sensational teams over the past few years, but it hadn’t broken through like it had this season until the past few weeks.

This win is for more than just a program: it’s for an entire conference.

Villanova will again be a top-five team next season

The Wildcats will miss both Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, but they’re still in position to be one of the better teams in the country once again.

Villanova will return Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins as seniors as well as a very capable back court headlined by Phil Booth and Jalen Brunson.

Fordham transfer Eric Paschall is expected to have a major role in the Wildcats’ front court and many believe that incoming freshman Omari Spellman could be Jay Wright’s first one-and-done player.

It will be business as usual on the Main Line in 2016-17.

Defense was a major factor in Villanova winning the national title.(USATSI)
Defense was a major factor in Villanova winning the national title. (USATSI)


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