Jay Wright / Villanova Feature - Bracketography.com

Jay Wright @ Villanova


by Andy Force
Senior Writer, Bracketography.com
February 10, 2006


Down six with two to play: panic time? No, it's "Nova time."

The reasons why Philly's finest are in the top 5 nationally are twofold: exceptional guard play and battle testing. Fortunately for Wildcat fans, those two facets of the game have converged this year to build a super 'Nova squad. Anything short of a return to the Sweet 16 would be a disgrace and truth be told, this is an Elite Eight team with a Final Four mentality. 

Currently creeping through the minefield that is the oversized Big East, Villanova is narrowly defeating talented teams with regularity. Recent victims include Louisville, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. The 'Ville and 'Cuse are just two of six 'Cats opponents with stars on the Wooden Watch list. 

In 2005, Illinois excited young, And1-inclined ballers while simultaneously invigorating crotchety traditionalists. Without the extended undefeated streak of last year's Illini, present day Villanova lacks the media crush and national bandwagon groupies. But take this to the bank: this year's Wildcats are equally prepared for a postseason push.

Keys to winning in the NCAA tournament are guard play and experience, which just so happen to be 'Nova's two biggest assets. With four guards capable of dumping double digits on hapless opponents, scoring is no concern. Threes come from everywhere, preceded by sharp two-hand passes and off the ball movement reminiscent of Reggie Miller.

Kyle Lowry handles the point, but no egos dominate the ball. The one time you can find excessive dribbling is actually when Jay Wright mandates it. The Villanova squad may knock you down onto the canvas with a barrage of triples, but the knockout blow comes from long, tiring possessions ended by a Randy Foye drive to the tin. Nothing is more demoralizing than an obvious one-on-one resulting in a made layup. On streets across this fine land the only difference between legends and benchers is this prowess at attacking the goal. 

Teams that COULD knock off Villanova would have to be able to deter skilled, slick passing. Removing the variety of offensive options such as the penetrating dribbles of Lowry and Foye is another potential secret to upsetting the Wildcats. 

While the 'Cats lack post scorers, their points in the paint never lag. 'Nova sports a surplus of slashers, capable of making a ton of close-range baskets. It is this ability to drive the lane with regularity that causes defensive breakdowns from so many 'Nova opponents. Imagine a jetquick 20-point scorer sprinting at you with the option of another 20-point shooter 10 feet to your left. Or you could disregard a 6'10 option an arm's length away from the rim. Pick your poison.

Villanova will lose two or three more games. It is just too good of a Big East for any one team to dominate nightly. Nevertheless, an off night from the outside seems remote with so many quality shooters. When Selection Sunday arises look for--no, fear--being paired with Villanova. This is a team without limits.