MARCH MADNESS

Roob's Observations: What to make of Villanova's early exit

MARCH MADNESS

Villanova’s run in this year's Big East Tournament was a short one.

Caleb Daniels missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Georgetown held on for a 72-71 win over top-seeded Villanova in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon.

Villanova led by 11 at 61-50 with 8 1/2 minutes left but was outscored 22-10 the rest of the way. The Wildcats shot 2-for-8 from the field in those final 8 1/2 minutes.

It’s the first time since 2014 - when ‘Nova was also the No. 1 seed - that the Wildcats didn’t win a game in the conference tournament and the first time since 2016 ‘Nova didn’t win the tournament.

Villanova played without co-Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie, out for the season with a knee injury.

Here’s 10 Observations from ‘Nova’s one-point loss:

MISSING COLIN: The Wildcats are now 0-2 without Gillespie, losing to Providence by two and Georgetown by one. They certainly miss his ability to drive the lane and finish at the rim and draw fouls or drive and dish to an open man. It’s no coincidence ‘Nova is just 10-for-48 from 3 without Gillespie because he has the ability to draw attention in the lane and kick it out to open shooters. Without Gillespie, ‘Nova’s 3’s have been more contested. 

3-POINT SHOOTING WOES CONTINUE: Villanova’s late-season shooting slump continued, with the Wildcats going just 9-for-30 from 3, including a 3-for-19 first half. Although the Wildcats shot better in the second half (6-for-11) they still shot below 35 percent for a fourth straight game. The Wildcats shot 38 percent from 3 in their first 18 games but they’re just 21-for-101 in their last four for 21 percent, and 1-3 in those games.

 

FREE THROWS KILLED THE WILDCATS: Villanova shot just 14-for-22 from the foul line (64 percent) - their 3rd-worst performance this year - and missed 5 of 9 foul shots in the last 7 1/2 minutes. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl could have given Villanova a two-point lead with 19 seconds left but only made one of two, opening up the door for the Hoyas. Villanova shot 77 percent from the line before Thursday. This is the worst they’ve shot from the line in a Big East tournament game since 2017, when they hit 59 percent of their free throws in a two-point win over Seton Hall.

BUT GEORGETOWN DIDN’T MISS: Two areas ‘Nova struggled Georgetown excelled in. The Hoyas shot 41 percent from 3 - above their season average of 36 percent - and the Hoyas were perfect from the foul line at 23-for-23. According to Georgetown’s on-line media guide, it’s the most foul shots the Hoyas have ever attempted in a game without a miss. They were 18-for-18 against Missouri in a game in 2010.

GUTTY EFFORT BY JUSTIN MOORE: Justin Moore, expected to miss the tournament with a sprained ankle, didn’t start but played 27 minutes and made 4 of 7 shots for 10 points before fouling out. 

HUGE EFFORTS FROM ROBINSON-EARL AND SAMUELS: Robinson-Earl scored and Jermaine Samuels combined for nearly two-thirds of Villanova’s 71 points. Robinson-Earl scored 26 on 9-for-13 from the field and added six rebounds. The 26 points is two off his career high of 28 set back in November against Arizona State at Mohegan Sun. He did miss six free throws after missing just 14 all year, Samuels added 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

BIG MINUTES FROM ARCH #2: Chris Arcidiacono, younger brother of former Villanova star Ryan, made his first career start and acquitted himself extremely well considering how little he's played in his two years at 'Nova. Arch, who had played only 62 minutes in his entire college career, played 34 minutes at the point and although he only took two shots, he ran the floor well, made 3 of 4 foul shots and added five rebounds, four assists, one steal and no turnovers. 

THE GAME-WINNING POINTS: Villanova took a 71-70 lead on a Robinson-Earl free throw with 19 seconds left. With five seconds left, Georgetown’s Dante Harris drove the lane and drew contact from Robinson-Earl as he shot. His shot didn’t go in, but he made both free throws with 4.5 seconds showing on the clock to give the Hoyas the one-point lead. Daniels got a decent look at a 3 but back-rimmed it as time ran out.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Villanova, which opened the season 11-1 and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, has now lost five of its last 10 games to fall to 16-6 and lost its No. 3 seed. The Wildcats will learn Sunday whether they’ve dropped down to No. 4 or No. 5. The good news is that Moore was able to return and look pretty good and with another week should be 100 percent for the NCAA Tournament.

 

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Villanova is actually just 1-6 all-time vs. Georgetown in the Big East Tournament. The last three times ‘Nova has lost its first game they lost by one point - 70-69 to South Florida in 2011, 64-63 to Seton Hall in 2014 and 72-71 Thursday. Last time Villanova didn't win the Big East Tournament, in 2016, they won the NCAA Tournament.