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TALE OF THE TAPE

Round Of 32: #2 Villanova Vs. #7 Connecticut

It’s interesting to see how the landscape of basketball is changing. Just three years ago, the Connecticut Huskies won the national championship, their third in 12 seasons. The Villanova Wildcats were the scrappy underdogs, fighting for respect as one of the toughest programs the nation. In this year’s March Madness college basketball tournament, the Wildcats are the second seeded team while the Huskies are struggling as a seven seed and are the new underdogs in this tournament.

#2 Villanova
#7 Connecticut
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Coaching
Winner Joe Wright is in his 13th season as the head coach of Villanova, and has taken a team that has made its name as a basketball school to the NCAA tournament for 10 straight seasons, making the Sweet 16 in four of them, the Elite Eight in two and the Final Four in one. He is easily one of the most successful coaches in college basketball.
Kevin Ollie is settling in as the head coach of UConn, replacing the legendary Jim Calhoun, a man who changed the face of basketball for the Huskies. A player just four seasons ago, Ollie is in his second season as the head coach and has built a 40-18 record over that time, this year making his first appearance in the NCAA tournament as the leader of the team.
Offense
Winner In the first round, Villanova took on Milwaukee and won by 20, scoring 73 points. With the 30th ranked scoring offense in the nation, the Wildcats averaged 45.2 percent from the floor but struggled from beyond the arc, only hitting 17.4 percent, a full 18.7 percent less than their season average. Because of their struggles from long distance, Milwaukee was able to keep it close and actually led for most of the first half.
The Huskies had to win their game over Saint Josephs by taking it into overtime. However, with Shabazz Napier on the court, Connecticut kept on winning. Napier scored 24 points in the game, with a three to send the game into overtime. Napier won a national title as a freshman with UConn, and he is the man who can lead the team back into contention this year.
Defense
Winner The Wildcats held Milwaukee to a low 28.6 percent shooting from the field, and out-rebounded them, 46-37. While Milwaukee was keeping the game close, the Wildcats defense kept Villanova in the game. When it came time to buckle down, Villanova stopped Milwaukee in the paint, only giving up 20 points and limiting them to 30 percent shooting.
Needing to make it into overtime to win, the Huskies defense couldn’t seem to stop Saint Josephs, letting them shoot 50 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. They were out-rebounded on defense, 24-22 as well. The team did what they needed to hang in there to win, but it may not be enough against the Wildcats.
Bench Depth
Winner Five players scored in double digits in the game, including two from the bench in Kris Jenkins (11) and Josh Hart (11). Overall, it was a complete team effort here, with nine players playing double-digit minutes, with sixth man Hart actually tied for the most time on the court with 30 minutes.
UConn had two players play a large amount of time from the bench in Amida Brimah (30 min) and Lasan Kromah (27). Brimah scored nine points and six rebounds as the better of the two.

The Winner Is

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Winner #2 Villanova
4 out of 4

While Villanova wins in all four categories, this was not a blowout win. Connecticut can score a lot of points and can keep up with the Wildcats to make this a close game. Also, if the Wildcats struggle again like they did in the second half of their first game, the Huskies have the firepower to pull away. While all the numbers favor Villanova, this won’t be anywhere near a blowout. Expect the Wildcats to win, but only by single-digit numbers.

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