Welcome back to PAND’s coverage of Villanova Basketball. Last week, the Villanova Wildcats bombed out of the Big East Tournament, falling 72-71 to Georgetown at Madison Square Garden. We covered the loss in Saturday’s article, so we won’t revisit it. It’s time to look forward to the tournament.
Villanova vs Winthrop
The NCAA Tournament bracket was announced just past 5pm on Sunday. As we expected, Villanova tumbled into a 5th seed, but the matchup isn’t bad. On paper, Winthrop looks terrifying. For one, they’re 23-1 on the season.
The second issue is their speed. Winthrop uses a deep, ten-man rotation. Their pace and depth often wear down their opponents. The Eagles won nine games this season by eight points or less. If even half of those games go the other way, this team would be a 14 seed, and an afterthought in a tournament preview.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 19, 2021
Winthrop has one major threat, Chandler Vaudrin. Vaudrin leads the team in scoring (12.2 PPG) and assists (6.9) per game. He’s THE guy on this team, and one the Wildcats will have a difficult time stopping without Collin Gillespie. Justin Moore’s ankle looks good enough now, so hopefully, Moore can at least give Vaudrin a moderately difficult time.
The advantages in this game for Villanova lay in their ability to force turnovers, and in their interior scoring. James Robinson-Earl will be the best player Winthrop has faced this season. His scoring ability has been impressive, but inconsistent in the Big East. Against an opponent like Winthrop, expect Jay Wright to slow things down and feed the ball inside to JRE.
Of all the individual matchups in this game, JRE’s is the greatest mismatch between both teams. The turnover factor is the other big advantage for Villanova. Not only does Nova usually win the turnover battle, Winthrop commits 14.2 turnovers a game.
The disadvantages for Villanova here are their depth and the mismatch trying to stop Vaudrin. Chandler Vaudrin is going to be a problem both making plays and scoring. Though he normally doesn’t blow the doors off teams with his scoring, Villanova will do their best to try to slow this game down.
This is going to put a lot of pressure on Caleb Daniels and Justin Moore. The depth is the other issue for Villanova. If Winthrop keeps their pace up, we may be seeing a lot more of Chris Acridiacono and Bryan Antoine.
Tipoff is scheduled for 9:57 EST on Friday, March 19th
Current Line: Villanova -6 over Winthrop
I would call it optimistic, but realistic to expect Villanova to come out on top when this game wraps-up day one of March Madness.
I expect Winthrop to go on hot streaks throughout this game, but I believe Villanova’s steady approach on offense in the paint (and ability to force turnovers) will give them the late breathing room to safely pull out the win. As for next round’s matchup, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.