Notes and thoughts

Arizona faces Villanova in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. We take a look at some of the subplots, including what Villanova will throw at Arizona.

Wildcat assistant Josh Pastner has taken some heat from the fans this year due to a perceived lack of development in the big men. Anyone who doubted his knowledge and ability to coach needed only to watch the Wisconsin game.

It was Pastner who had the scout of the Badgers and devised the defensive strategy that had Ivan Radenovic sagging off the Badger big men on the perimeter and stay in the lane altering shots and limiting the Badgers' ability to cut to the basket.

The Cats were totally prepared for the Badgers and played their best game of the year. While fans may not be happy with the development of Kirk Walters and Mohamed Tangara, they cannot fault Pastner in his preparation for Friday's game.

Villanova

Villanova gets a lot of run for their four-guard attack, but it is a line-up they only use for short stretches in the game. When they are in the small ball attack, they don't give up a lot on the boards as all four guards rebound well. The only drawback is that they are suspect against teams that feed the post. Expect the Cats to repeatedly look to get the ball to Radenovic, Walters and even Brielmaier on the inside.

‘Nova relies heavily on the three-point shot and if the tre is not falling, the East Coast Wildcats are a lot less effective. Expect the Cats to really put some defensive pressure out on the perimeter. It could be a game where we see a lot of Chris Rodgers and Daniel Dillon.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Villanova was the health of guard Allen Ray. Ray hurt his eye in the Big East Tournament but showed almost no ill-effects. He played without goggles and scored 19 points, including five three pointers.

Homecomings:

A lot has been made about Mustafa Shakur returning home to Philadelphia. We have all heard about Shakur having to try to find nearly 200 tickets for friends and family.

What has not been reported as much is a possible homecoming for Bret Brielmaier. If the Cats win the Minnetonka, MN native will get a chance to play in his home state. The Regional semi-finals and finals are in Minneapolis.

Road Games:

For the second straight year the Wildcats will play a top seeded team in a venue within driving distance from their campus. Last year the Cats got Illinois in suburban Chicago. Although the Illini campus is over an hour drive from Rosemont, the bulk of the alumni base call the Windy City home.

This year is even worse. The Cats will play Villanova at the Wachovia center, a mere 17 miles from the Villanova campus. Villanova gets to play the game because of a technicality. NCAA rules state that a team can only play at a location where they played three or less home games. This year Villanova played just three home games on the home floor of the 76ers. In years past they have played more games there, but smartly reduced the number of games in the arena knowing there was a chance that they could be seeded in Philadelphia.

It could have been worse for the Wildcats. Had they beaten Seton Hall in 2004, they would have faced Duke in Greensboro, NC, a short drive from the Blue Devils' campus in Durham, NC.

Past History

The Cats have been very successful in the second round. The Cats are 11-2 in second round games, but have never played one as a lower seed. The two losses were to Alabama in 1990 and Wisconsin in 2000.

Numbers

The Cats are 2-1 vs. Villanova all time. Their last meeting in 1991. They are 13-11 against teams with the Wildcat moniker. Arizona is 5-8 vs. Kansas State and a combined 8-3 against Kentucky, Northwestern, Villanova and Davidson.


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