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Previewing Villanova: Wildcats bring the threes, and a whole lot more

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How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 7:10 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 21

TV: TBS

Online streamingMarch Madness Live

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Villanova vitals

Record: 33-2 (19-2)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 4
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 19
Best win: Butler (No. 18 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: Seton Hall (No. 99 in Pomeroy Ratings)

Adjusted tempo: 64.5 poss/40 minutes (ranks 185th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 121.2 (ranks 4th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 91.9 (ranks 12th)

Villanova @ StatSheet
Villanova roster
Villanova schedule
Villanova stats 2015

The Villanova offense and starters

Villanova Offense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
Overall (National Rank) 55.9 (11) 16.5 (39) 32.7 (110) 41.9 (53)
In Big East Games (Conf. Rank) 55.8 (1) 16.6 (2) 32.7 (4) 45.3 (2)


Villanova's improvement from good offense in 2014 (24th in OE) to elite in 2015 involves some modest improvements in several areas, plus one big improvement: from 118th in three-point accuracy to 18th. The Wildcats rely heavily on the outside shot, and they have a bunch of dudes who can hit it.

Five Villanova players have attempted at least 100 three-pointers this season, and a sixth has attempted 62. Every single one of them is shooting better than 37% from outside. That's an incredible amount of outside scoring depth, and it's what makes catching the Wildcats on an off day so difficult--if a couple of guys are struggling they have three or four more to pick up the slack. That's tough.

They also have an outstanding interior option in Daniel Ochefu to give the offense some balance. Ochefu is hitting 66% of his two-point attempts this season. He's surrounded by shooters, and he's making the most of that.

NC State has enough size on the perimeter to create problems but its execution at the defensive end will need to be nearly flawless. If the Wolfpack is making too many mistakes there, Villanova is probably not going to offer many breaks, and it could snowball in a hurry. Layfayette found out how that works on Thursday night.

Starters

Dylan Ennis (6-2, 192) -- Ennis is shooting about 49% inside the arc in addition to his 37.7% three-point shooting. Doesn't get to the free throw line a lot, but that's not a huge part of his game since he's only a 67% FT shooter for his career. Good assist rate, solid turnover rate for a ballhandler.

Ryan Arcidiacono (6-3, 195) -- He's improved his three-point shooting with each subsequent season, but has been an iffy proposition inside the arc. He's one of a bunch of Villanova players opponents would prefer to keep off the line, where he's shooting 81%.

Darrun Hilliard (6-6, 215) -- Hilliard has been a clear go-to scorer for the Wildcats in a lineup that is otherwise balanced. He accounts for about 28% of the team's shots while he's on the floor, while nobody else is above 21.5%. Hilliard's versatility makes him a tough mark--he's been an excellent outside shooter throughout his career, and he's also a 51% shooter inside the arc.

JayVaughn Pinkston (6-7, 235) -- Draws fouls at an incredible rate, which is where a lot of his value lies since he's a career 72.5% free throw shooter. This season he ranks 15th nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and is making 77% of his freebies. He's only making 46.7% of his twos, so some discipline when defending him is important.

Daniel Ochefu (6-11, 245) -- While he hasn't been able to shake a turnover problem during his career, there is a lot to like about Ochefu. This year he emerged as a dominant rebounder--he ranks 28th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and seventh in DR%. He's also a good shot blocker, and as touched on earlier, can score effectively inside when the team needs it.

The Villanova bench and defense

Reserves: Josh Hart (6-5, 205), Kris Jenkins (6-6, 240), Phil Booth (6-3, 185), Darryl Reynolds (6-8, 225). Hart is in the midst of an incredible season, what with his 47.3% three-point shooting and 55.9% two-point shooting. His workload is only average but he seems like a dude capable of handling more.

Jenkins, despite the beef he's carrying around, is essentially a three-point specialist: he's taken 126 threes against 32 twos in 2015.

Booth has hit 46.8% of his 62 three-point attempts.

Villanova Defense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
Overall (National Rank) 45.4 (41) 21.7 (30) 31.0 (169) 29.8 (31)
In Big East Games (Conf. Rank) 46.5 (1) 19.2 (3)
31.5 (6) 31.1 (1)


Villanova's ability to protect the rim isn't exceptional (the Cats rank 96th in block rate), but opponents are only shooting about 45% inside the arc. The Wildcats rank 22nd in steal rate, so they have been disruptive despite a lack of shot blockers. Their steal-heavy defense hasn't hurt them in terms of committing fouls, and their stellar yoinkitude takes pressure off of their shot botherers.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Villanova by 11.