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The 850 Gang Previews the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats

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Jordan and his crew had another little chat about West Virginia’s upcoming opponent in the Sweet Sixteen, and the Mountaineers have their work cut out for them this Friday

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Alabama vs Villanova Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last week my buddies and I scouted Murray State. This week we're at it again..

Pinto: Ok so first look at Nova...

First thing that jumps out is the offensive balance - 6 dudes average double-digits, and 5 of them have scored 20+. They also share and handle the ball really well - 5 of their top 6 averaging 2+ assists per game and they rank 5th nationally as a team. They shoot the absolute hell outta the ball as a team (50/40/77 splits, 5th, 12th, and 17th nationally, respectively), and especially love to let it fly from deep (47% of their shots are 3’s, 12th nationally). All of their top 6 can hit from deep, and 5 shoot 39% or better.

Defensively, they’re pretty good at forcing turnovers (47th nationally) and blocking shots (54th), and rebound the ball very well as a team (27th in DRB, all of the top 6 average 3+). Could present some issues in the variety of defenses they’ll throw at us, but as long as we move the ball we should be OK.

Couple other notes..

They’re not really big or small. They only play 3 guys bigger than 6’7, but nobody smaller than 6’3. They are a little light in the ass though (only 2 guys over 200lbs), so we really need guys like Esa and Lamont to pound them in the glass. They’re not super deep (8 guys play 10+ min), but their top 6 is so solid that they haven’t really had to be.

From a “who to watch” standpoint, Brunson and Bridges are their 2 main guys. Brunson is realllllly balanced - he shoots 42% from 3 but is also really strong in the post, which may make him JC’s toughest test this year. Bridges is equally versatile and will require our guys to stay super disciplined on the dribble drive, cuz he’s absolutely knock down from deep (44%). One of those guys that can turn a 3 point lead into 15 in a hurry.

I think we let JC man up on Brunson, throw Dax or Beetle at DiVincenzo (more of a spot up guy), and let Harris, Lamont, and Esa go at Bridges. CANNOT help off against these guys; gotta stay home and trust Sags/Routt to clean stuff up. Contested layups are OK, open 3’s are not. Thoughts?

Andy: In a staff meeting. Give me a little bit.

Jeff: Yea they're tough. Expect us to use that 1-2-2 press like we did against Marshall quite a bit. We're gonna throw a ton of looks at them. If they are hitting against us I’m making a bold prediction we may even see the Boeheim extended 2-3. Huggs referenced the 1-3-1 last week in his presser... makes you throw long, slow passes. It’s a nice switch up for a couple of possessions until they call timeout and adjust.

Pinto: I’d be worried that they pass too well for the 1-3-1..

Jeff: Just depends on flow of the game but if they are raining we gotta throw multiple looks at them. Bottom line is we gotta be hitting, and we need role guys to step up big time.. we don’t win games from behind or trading baskets. Gotta grab the lead and finish.

Pinto: Agreed on all counts. Bench needs to win, need everybody to be hitting, and may need Kansas Esa to rear his beautiful head.

Jeff: Kansas Esa is what I told coworkers yesterday. I’m not sure he still exists however..

Jeff: Made this sweet spreadsheet of Huggs vs Jay Wright during the Big East years. That’s regular season conference finish. Pretty even matchups back then.

***Twitter announces that Wes is gonna play

Pinto: Thank God. We need bodies to throw.

Jeff: Yeah. Our 8/9 vs their 6 in a hard-nosed dog fight. Wear their ass down and make them take tired shots. They don’t turn it over a ton but they do turn it over. Just hope we can get them out of their comfort zone.

Pinto: I mean looking at their schedule, they’ve lost to Butler, Providence, St John’s, and Creighton - not sure if any of Butler, Creighton, or Providence are even tournament teams in the Big 12 (though they probably are), and shit St John’s didn’t even go .500. It’s not like they’re some juggernaut with overwhelming talent (like 2012 Kentucky), just a very, very good, very unselfish college basketball team. I’m certainly not unbiased, but it’s not clear to me that they’ve played anybody better than us when we’re clicking. Only Xavier, Tennessee, and Butler are even in the same ball park. I do think they're probably the best team left, but definitely not unbeatable.

Andy: Ok. So I don’t think we will be able to run them into the ground like other teams. They run. They shoot more 3's than us which is impressive. So I think if we annoy them and force them into taking some forced tough shots on a good amount of their possessions, that will help. Shoot decent and don’t rush shots on our end. Pound down low and definitely get Routt into Cam Thoroughman mode. Cause problems. Pick fights. Win on the glass since we have a height advantage. Do not give them multiple opportunities on their end. Make FTs down the stretch. JC doesn’t dribble us out of the game. Sags disrupts and becomes satanic for a bit. Esa plays the entire game around the rim instead of 18 feet away. Beetle/Dax hit a couple 3s when the game is in the balance. Harris/Esa pull down a couple big rebounds the last 1:30. 81-74. See you Sunday.

Pinto: I can dig that. Let's do it.