As the 2013 NCAA Tournament approaches, the 9th-seeded Villanova Wildcats (20-13) prepare for their first game against the red-hot, 8th-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (24-10).
The Tar Heels are coming off a 10-point defeat in the championship game of the ACC Tournament to the Miami Hurricanes. Although Jay Wright and the Wildcats were not expecting to be seeded as high as 9, they did not necessarily luck out as their quite improbable road to the Final Four in Atlanta begins with a tough game against the Tar Heels.
‘Nova’s four Top 25 wins were at home against No. 5 Louisville, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 17 Marquette, No. 5 Georgetown, and they must have convinced the committee to give them a generous seed.
If the Wildcats win, they will play the 1st-seeded Kansas Jayhawks. Leading scorer Ben McLemore, averaging 16.4 points per game, and the Jayhawks, fresh off a Big 12 Tournament championship, will be a tough opponent to say the least for the inexperienced Wildcats. Pending an unlikely victory in Kansas City, Villanova could potentially face UCLA, Georgetown, Michigan, and Florida in what some classify as the toughest region in the tournament.
In order to start off the tourney with a win vs UNC, ‘Nova needs to keep their turnovers to a minimum. In the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament against Louisville, the Wildcats recorded a season-high 25 turnovers, 18 of them being in the first half. Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono has been the biggest perpetrator throughout the season due to his lack of experience. Arcidiacono has coughed the ball up on average just under 3 times per game. In 3 straight losses to Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Providence, the standout freshman turned the ball over 6, 6, and 5 times respectively. If Arcidiacono limits his turnovers along with the rest of the team, Villanova’s scrappy defense and deadly 3-point attack can lead them to victory on Friday night.
Coupled with Arcidiacono’s ability to make plays, Villanova’s three breakout scorers Darrun Hilliard, Jayvaughn Pinkston, and Mouphtaou Yarou all need to play well in response to UNC’s deadly trio of P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock, and James Michael McAdoo. Villanova has to stop the Tar Heels’ ferocious offensive attack, described by ‘Nova coach Jay Wright as “relentless.” With North Carolina’s ability to run with the ball and create points off Villanova turnovers, the Wildcats must control the ball and play at a pace that will warrant a Villanova first round victory against the storied North Carolina program.
Tip-off is at 7:20 PM EST on Friday March 22nd.