NCAA: Villanova slays 2 top 5 teams in week


Villanova’s bench anticipate the final buzzer during their win over No. 5 Louisville.

The Villanova Wildcats came into the week on a three-game losing streak and had an 11-7 overall record, 2-3 in the Big East. The had lost to Syracuse by 11 at Syracuse, lost by 15 at home against Pittsburg and fell to Providence on the road in an eight-day stretch. When Louisville came to town on Tues., Jan. 22, the ink was barely dry on the newly released Associated Press Top 25 Poll that was released on Monday that named the squad the No. 5 ranked team in the NCAA, down from No. 1 a week prior due to a 68:70 loss to Syracuse two days earlier. When they left town, the Cardinals had been handed their third loss of the season, a solid 73:64 defeat. On Saturday, Nova would face their second Top 5 ranked team when the same Orangemen of Syracuse that had knocked off Louisville a week earlier would travel to Philadelphia, PA and would also meet the same fate as Louisville, a 75:71 loss to the unranked Wildcats.

This is the same Villanova that lost to Columbia by 18 at home in late November.

Villanova – Louisville, 73:64
On Tuesday the Wildcats moved off campus to the Wells Fargo Center, where the Philadelphia 76ers play, to accommodate the larger crowd they anticipated for a Top 5 ranked opponent. In front of nearly 12,000 college hoops fans, they got out early dropping in their first four triple attempts and getting up by 10 mid-way through the first half. The Cardinals countered with a 0:10 run of their own to reel their hosts back and end the first half with Nova up 30:28.

Louisville controlled the contest early in the second half, getting up 46:52 with just over eight minutes to play, but would only tally 12 points from there out, while the Wildcats would run off 27 to join the list of upsets on the NCAA season.

Villanova – Syracuse, 75:71 OT
When Syracuse came to town, they were riding an eight-game winning streak that included the Louisville game and a home win over the Cincinnati Bearcats in Syracuse. One of those eight wins also included a 72:61 home win over Villanova. This contest would also be held at the Wells Fargo Center, only this time the crowd was listed at 18,273 strong and included a very strong contingent sporting Syracuse Orange.

Syracuse falls to 18-2 overall, 6-1 in the Big East, with both of their two losses coming at the hands of Philadelphia Big Five schools, with Temple providing their first loss on the year in late December after opening the season with 10 straight wins.

This was a much tighter contest for Villanova, but the Wildcats controlled the game early, getting off the first 10 points of the game and holding a 32:26 lead at the half.

They let the Orangemen back in the game early in the second half with a 0:7 run the give up the lead for the first time.

The rest of the way neither team got much breathing room, but Syracuse had a three-point lead and a bonus at the line, but the normally steady hand of Michael Carter-Williams missed the first single, Nova’s JayVaugh Pinkston snagged the board and set off the Wildcats hopes for a tie. James Bell pulled up for a three that was long, Mouphtaou Yarou hauled in the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Ryan Arcidiacono behind the arc, who nailed the triple with 2.2 seconds on the clock to knot the score at 61.

In the extra 5 Syracuse couldn’t find the cords and Bell dropped in back-to-back threes for the Wildcats to build a lead that the guests just couldn’t recover from.

Will the Wildcats get some love from the Pollsters after knocking off two Top 5 teams? Not with seven loses they won’t. Sitting in the middle of the pack in the Big East Conference, they most likely won’t even get a second look for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, although there’s a lot of Big East play left, so that remains to be seen.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.