PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Virginia is gone. So is Xavier. The top teams left in the NCAA Tournament are Villanova, the No. 1 seed in the East bracket and the overall No. 2 seed behind vanquished Virginia, and Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, which is very beatable, and a host of name schools like Duke, Syracuse and Kentucky still hanging around in the Sweet 16.
None of those teams are as good as the Wildcats (32-4). Villanova’s next opponent is No. 5-seed West Virginia Friday night at 7:27 p.m. on TBS from the TD Garden, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Mountaineers (26-10) play a helter-skelter pressing style, which Villanova guards Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth should have no trouble shredding.
Here’s something else the other 15 remaining teams need to fear about Villanova: The Wildcats were awful in the first half last weekend against Alabama—by Villanova standards—and still smoked the Crimson Tide, 81-58. Villanova leads the nation in scoring, averaging 86.9 points a game. West Virginia, aside from its press, also features 6-2 senior guard Jevon Carter, who averages 17.4 ppg.
“The biggest challenge is that you never see anybody that plays like they do in the first 32 games you play,” Wildcats’ coach Jay Wright said about the West Virginia press. “They have a lot of weapons it’s not just their guards that shoot three’s, it’s not just their press, they are a tremendous shot blocking team.
“West Virginia gets extra possessions and they average 80 points a game. They score at a high rate and that’s what gets them into their press, so your half-court defense has to be good because if they’re scoring on you they’re in their press. I think we are going to have to get in there and take a hit every now and then and hope it doesn’t affect us too much and that we can grind through it.”
As for Carter, Wright said, “He reminds me a lot of Jalen Brunson. It begins with his mental toughness and focus. You can tell he is a serious competitor, in his press conference last night he was already on to the next game and that’s similar to Jalen. He is a tremendous leader for their team.”
Can anyone left stop Villanova?
It’s highly unlikely, which will give the Wildcats two national championships in the last three years—and another victory parade in center city Philadelphia.
NCAA Sweet 16
No. 1 Villanova (32-4) vs. No. 5 West Virginia (26-10)
When: Friday, 7:27 p.m. ET
Where: TD Garden (Boston, MA)
TV: TBS (Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)
Villanova: Jay Wright (17th season at Villanova 418-165, overall 540-250)
West Virginia: Bob Huggins (11th season at West Virginia 255-129, overall 845-340)
Series: Villanova leads 22-20
G Jalen Brunson, 6-3, Jr. 19.1 ppg
G Mikal Bridges, 6-6, Jr. 18.0 ppg
G Phil Booth, 6-3, Jr. 10.6 ppg
F Omari Spellman, 6-9, Fr. 10.6 ppg
F Eric Paschall, 6-9, Jr. 10.2 ppg
G Jevon Carter, 6-2, Sr. 17.4 ppg
G Daxter Miles, 6-3, Sr. 12.8 ppg
F Sagaba Konate, 6-8, So. 10.8 ppg
F Wesley Harris, 6-8, So. 5.5 ppg
F Esa Ahmad, 6-8, Jr. 10.2 ppg