The Villanova Wildcats head into the Final Four this week in preparation for their matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners. As a number two seed, the Sooners are one of the nation’s top teams. Head coach Lon Kruger has led his squad to a 29-7 record, despite having the fourth highest Strength of Schedule rating in the nation. Here are three keys for Villanova to have success against Oklahoma:
The thing is though, Buddy Hield has only recorded one single digit point game this season. Obviously, the hope is for Josh Hart to completely shut down Hield, but the chances of this happening are not high. He needs to contain Hield, but then additionally come out on the offensive end ready to produce. He, along with the rest of the ‘Nova backcourt, will have to match the Oklahoma backcourt offensively. Daniel Ochefu, Kris Jenkins, and the rest of the Villanova big men should have some trouble, as they face one of the best defensive frontcourts in the nation. While starting forward Ryan Spangler has a defensive box plus/minus of 4.1 (second on the team for people who have played more than 200 minutes), 6-foot-9 forward Khadeem Lattin has a defensive box plus/minus of 9.2, which is fourth in the nation and has earned him a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. The Villanova frontcourt will need all of the help they can get, as the Wildcat big men will be more than likely slowed down.
Moreover, it’s the entire team that often lives by the three. Although they’ve found ways to win without the three ball, they average 25 three pointers per game. If they’re making their three’s, they are the best team in the country. The Wildcats need to pressure the perimeter shooters and force the ball inside or drive them into mid-range jump shots. While Oklahoma’s big men are solid, their guards are much more dangerous on the offensive end. However, defense is something that the Wildcats do well. But if they don’t do it well Saturday evening, they will find themselves heading home earlier than desired.
Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
-(1) Villanova faces (9) Alabama in the second round of the NCAA tournament