The Wildcats have covered in 14 of 16 games.
Ohio State needed overtime to beat VCU only 3. Despite Lennard Freeman leading the Wolfpack with a modest 5.6 rebounding average, this is a team for whom boards are a strength since they gang-rebound well and have solid depth up front. He got to the Elite Eight with ‘Bama in ’04 and reach a Sweet 16 with his current school in ’12. State team likes to flirt with disaster and then has the fighting spirit to overcome. State has covered seven of its last nine games.
Head coach Jay Wright is coaching in his 10th NCAA Tournament at Villanova and went twice as a young head coach at Hofstra. The Wolfpack also looked to be in trouble barely a month ago, entering a Valentine’s Day visit to Louisville on a run of five losses in six games. They upset the Cards to start a run of wins in six of seven, including conquests at UNC and Clemson. How else do you explain the Wolfpack’s win over LSU on Thursday. Arizona’s harassment of opposing ballhandlers has been the catalyst for its high-level defensive efficiency thus far in the season, as UA ranks second in the Pac-12 with an average of 7.2 steals per game.
UA has been able to impose its will inside the arc on both ends of the floor this season, outscoring its opponents by an average of 13.7 points per game and shooting 11.5 percent better than its opponents from two-point territory. The Wildcats rank third nationally in that department this season, allowing less points per 100 possessions less than last season’s nation-leading average. Six players score at least 9.4 points per game, led by senior wing Darrun Hilliard averaging 13.9. They made 11 of 22 from 3-point range and shot 63 percent, but the task is going to be tougher against the much bigger Wolfpack.
The top-seeded Wildcats bullied Lafayette 93-52 in the opening game, exploding to shoot close to 70 percent for most of the game and led by as many as 45 points. The quartet of Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson and Kaleb Tarczewski is combining to shoot 54.5 percent (507-of-930) from inside the arc, pacing UAto a clip of 53.8 percent from two-point range and an average margin of +10.9 points per game in the paint. State got into the NCAAs without much drama.
In each of the last two seasons, Arizona has ranked among the national leaders in defensive rebound percentage with a mark of better than 72 percent each season. Head coach Mark Gottfried has taken Murray State, Alabama and N.C. State to NCAA Tournaments. They will have tremendous problems with Arizona’slock down defense and their sharp shooters.
Arizona is 28-1 (.966) this season and is 124-21 (.855) under head coach Sean Miller when it holds an edge in the rebound column. Despite an identical 10-8 record in league play as NIT-bound Miami, not to mention a head-to-head loss to the Canes, N.C. Arizona has thrown down 114 dunks this season for an average of 3.3 per game, and 293 in 73 games since the start of the 2013-14 campaign (4.0/game). UA currently has a +9.0 rebounding margin this season to lead the Pac-12 and rank second nationally.
Bolstered by a defensive effort that ranked fourth nationally in field goal percentage defensive and sixth in scoring defense, UA ranked first nationally in adjusted defense in 2013-14. The Wildcats are currently securing 77.6 percent of available defensive rebounds this season, the top mark in the country.
Guards Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Kat Barber complement each other nicely, combining for 41 points per game and shooting over 38 percent from 3-point range (184-for-475). Villanova ranks 23rd in points per game (76.3) and 13th in assists per game (15.9).
This N.C. N.C. Of course, they’ve earned their 33-2 record, winning 16 of 18 in Big East play, suffering losses to Seton Hall in OT and in a flat performance at Georgetown. His top finish is reaching the 2009 Final Four and he’s also reached two Sweet 16s and an Elite 8. The Tigers blew a huge second-half lead by missing its last 12 field goals and six straight crucial free throws down the stretch. Junior center Daniel Ochefu and senior JayVaughn Pinkston are the key to this perimeter-based bunch due to their ability to hold the fort down in the paint. Conversely, UA clamped down on opponents inside the arc, allowing them to shoot just 42.3 percent from two-point range to rank 14th nationally.. Center Beejay Anya made it pay off with a buzzer-beater