The number of Villanova doubters should now be, precisely, zero.
Location? Doesn’t matter. Nova is white-hot in this tourney and as dangerous as anyone. There was some concern and criticism over Villanova getting a No. 2 seed but getting sent to Louisville instead of Philadelphia, which would have made sense given top-four seeds’ geographic protection.
Didn’t matter on Thursday. The Wildcats continue to look scary-good. They beat Miami 92-69, and in doing so, put up the most points in a Sweet 16 game since Kentucky dropped 102 on Indiana four years ago. Villanova will play on Saturday in the Elite Eight. It will be the first time the Wildcats have been in that game since 2009 — when they made the Final Four.
Here’s what Villanova’s done through three rounds:
Defeated UNC Asheville by 30.
Defeated Iowa by 19.
Defeated Miami by 23.
Average margin of victory: 24.0 points.
This is how you atone for two straight seasons of tournament flops and a struggle for the past half-decade in thriving in March. I mean, look at this stat. Miami is a very good defensive team, and Nova just put on the best offensive performance by any team in college basketball THE ENTIRE SEASON:
1.60 points per possession for Villanova. The best offensive game for any team the ENTIRE SEASON
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) March 25, 2016
Nova shot 63 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from 3. It went 18 of 19 from the foul line. Ryan Arcidiacono is having an amazing run to close out his career; he put up a team-high 21. Kris Jenkins is doing ridiculous stuff every night. To wit:
Recap of Kris Jenkins’ night: https://t.co/KujDIZczWg #MarchMadness
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 25, 2016
To this point, Villanova’s played with an edge, a motivation, been disrespected by the country and the selection committee — and it’s all showed. Jay Wright’s on the cusp of getting to the second Final Four of his career. No question about it that Saturday’s game will be the toughest he’ll play in this tournament so far.
But if Villanova does then what it did on Thursday, and last Sunday and Friday, then the Wildcats will be in Houston.