Philadelphia Sports: Villanova Falls in Round of 32

March 23rd, 2015 by Ryan Waterman | Filed under Basketball, College Sports, General.

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The madness is over for the Wildcats. Villanova’s march towards their first NCAA Title since 1985 came to an abrupt halt on Saturday night, as the NC State Wolfpack stunned Jay Wright’s squad 71-68. The Wildcats’ season comes to an end, well short of what was expected. Finishing at 34-3 on the season, Villanova still has plenty to take pride in. This team finished with the best record in not only Villanova history, but in Big East history too. In the midst of this, they secured only the second #1 seed in team history. Despite it’s disappointing end, this season was one of the most magical in NCAA history.

‘Nova didn’t necessarily “hit the ground running” last night, as they opened the contest going 2-12 from the field, including a trio of missed layups in the first 8 minutes of the game. If not for Darrun Hilliard II, the game would’ve gotten well out of hand quickly.  The senior tallied 12 of Villanova’s 28 first-half points.  Junior forward Daniel Ochefu had a horrendous night from the field going 1-7, including a pair of gimme layups that were botched.

The Wildcats as usual, lived by the 3-pointer last night, knocking down 32% of their shots from beyond the arc.  Darrun Hilliard nailed 60% of his 3’s, including three clutch shots late in the game to keep the ‘Cats in the game. Perhaps Villanova’s biggest detriment was their shooting % from the field.  A team that averages 47% from the field, shot an abysmal 31% last night, including a 16% performance from Dylan Ennis.

On the flip-side, NC State practically outplayed Villanova all game. Led by 4 players in double-digits (including two with double-doubles), the Wolfpack dominated the paint. Anthony Barber and Abdul-Malik Abu killed Villanova, as they combined for 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Wolfpack as a whole, shot 45% from the field. As time expired in the first half, Trevor Lacey made a 3-pt jumper that would turn out to be the deciding factor in this game. Despite their best efforts, the Wolfpack were unable to put the Wildcats down in the second-half, and instead allowed them to put themselves down.

An interesting fact to note after last night’s game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, “In addition to beating Villanova on Saturday, NC State also beat Duke and North Carolina this season. The last time an ACC school beat Duke, North Carolina and a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, it went on to win the national championship. The last time NC State beat Duke, North Carolina and a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, it went on to win the national championship.”   Could it have just been a misstep by the Wildcats, or is NC State destined for greatness?  Only time will tell…

Ending this article on a bright note, Villanova still has quite the future to look forward to.  Without taking into account any possible NBA departures, Villanova only loses two of its’ stars next season; Darrun Hillard and JayVaugh Pinkston. The Wildcats will pretty much be returning the same team next season, as this season.  So, I can say with cautious optimism that Villanova will bounce back next season.

On behalf of all us here at TalkSportsPhilly, we would like to congratulate the Villanova Wildcats & Coach Jay Wright on their high level of success this season, and wish them the best of luck in future seasons. We would also like to wish Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston the best of luck in taking their game to the next level (assuming that they indeed declare for the draft). Go Wildcats!!!   

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