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Villanova - Mount St. Mary's Preview

VUSports previews the First Round NCAA Tournament match-up between #1 seeded, Villanova and #16 Mount St. Mary's (7:10 p.m., Thursday, March 16th, CBS) ...

#1 Seed Villanova takes on #16 Seed Mount St. Mary’s in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. (TV: CBS, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).

Kenpom predicts a 76-54 win for Villanova with a 98% chance of the Cats winning the game.  ‘Nova leads the all-time series 10-1.  All but three games were played between 1939 and 1958.  The Wildcat loss came at the Palestra in 1957.  The only meeting after 2000 was a 90-58 Villanova win at the Pavilion in 2013.

The Mountaineers played several teams from power conferences early in the season and had little success.  In a series of road losses, they fell by 28 to West Virginia, 18 to Iowa St., 24 to Minnesota, 17 to Michigan and 13 to Arkansas.  The game against the Razorbacks was the only game in which The Mount scored more than 59 points against a power team.  When it comes to “best wins” this season, The Mount beat George Mason by 2 in OT on the road and New Orleans by 1 in the First Four.  The Northeast Conference is ranked as the 30th best of the 32 D1 conferences - the Mountaineer in-conference schedule is littered with games against low-level competition.

It has been well documented that a #16 Seed has never defeated a #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament.  It would take Villanova having a poor performance and Mount St. Mary’s having an exceptional one for this game to be tight down the stretch.  Both teams like to play at a similar tempo but the Cats are considerably more efficient on offense playing at that pace.  Villanova has the advantage in height and experience and both teams get about 25% of their minutes from their bench - so neither team will be able to leverage their bench to wear the other team down from a minutes perspective.

Expect the Cats to look to focus on two things defensively - 1) limit the impact of dribble penetration from Elijah Long and Junior Robinson and 2) make it difficult for the Mountaineers to get clean looks from three-point range.  On offense, expect Villanova to focus on spacing, court balance and being patient - making the extra pass to get the best quality look.  ‘Nova will want to avoid losing discipline on offense if they get out to a large working margin.

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per Kenpom.com)

a few things stand out:

  • The Mountaineers have a below average offense - the best aspect of which is an average Effective FG% when compared to teams nationally
  • MSM is a poor rebounding team on both ends of the floor
  • The Mount does not get to the line much and ‘Nova is best in the country at not fouling (expect the Cats to have a large advantage in FTAs)
  • The MSM defense is good at creating turnovers with Elijah Long, and Chris Wray leading the charge.

Mount St. Mary’s player thumbnails:

Junior Robinson (5-5, 165, Jr., 104.1 ORtg, 33.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 2.9 APG, 42.5% FG, 86.8% FT, 39.9% 3PFG)  Robinson is an electric player at 5-5.  He can shoot the three and knock down his FTs.  He was the MVP of the Mount win over New Orleans in the First Four.  It will be interesting to see which players the Cats match-up on Robinson if he begins to get hot.

Elijah Long (6-0, 180, So., 97.2 ORtg, 34.3 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 42% FG, 74% FT, 39.5% 3PFG)  A key cog in everything the Mount does.  He is involved in a lot of possessions and takes a lot of shots.  He is more efficient scoring from beyond the arc than taking it into the lane.  Long can set up teammates for good looks and really gets after it on defense as he gets steals and disrupts passing lanes.  Gets to the FT line and a decent rate.

Miles Wilson (6-5, 190, Fr., 97.5 ORtg, 28.6 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 46.1 FG%, 73.4% FT, 36.7% 3PFG)  Wilson is a solid two-way player who contributes consistent scoring and defense but doesn’t really stand out as being exceptionally good or bad at any one aspect of the game.  

Chris Wray (6-8, 200, Jr., 103.4 ORtg, 29.3 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 57.7% FG, 31.5% FT)  Shoots the ball efficiently from two-point range but doesn’t get to the line with frequency.  Never ventures outside to shoot the deep ball.  Plays the 5 and the 4.  Wray blocks shots and is the best offensive rebounder on the team.  Adept at drawing fouls.

Mawdo Sallah (6-9, 233, So., 96.4 ORtg, 20.2 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG,51.9% FG, 48.9% FT) Defends, rebounds and blocks shots but is not a great offensive option.  He can finish in close but he does not shoot FTs well nor get to the line all that much.  A solid defensive rebounder who also can get on the O glass a bit.

Greg Alexander (6-4, 215, Jr., 105.3 ORtg, 38.9, 54.3% FT, 36.2% 3PFG) Plays some 4 and some 3.  Alexander is strong with the ball, avoids fouling people and shoots a lot of three-balls.


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