The 5th seeded West Virginia Mountaineers will take on the 1st seeded Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen matchup for the East region on Friday night in Boston. Neither team has yet to face any real competition so far in advancing as both teams have won by at least 15 points in the first 2 rounds. The Mountaineers dominated both the 12th Seeded Murray State Racers and the 13th seeded Marshall Herd. The same is true for Villanova as they blew out both the 16th seeded Radford Highlanders and the 9th seeded Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Mountaineers played well on both sides of the ball in their 94-71 victory over Marshall. Four different players scored in double figures and were led by senior guard Jevon Carter who scored 28 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Carter also had 5 steals and 5 assists. As a team they shot 50 percent from the floor including 12 of 25 from three-point range. They also made 16 of their 18 free throw attempts. In the first 2 games they are averaging 90 points per game. Defensively, they forced Marshall into 18 turnovers and have forced 34 so far in the tournament. If there was a negative for their defense, it is they allowed the Herd to make 12 of their 26 three point attempts.
Villanova exploded for 49 points in the second half against Alabama turning a 5-point halftime lead into a 23-point victory. Senior guard Mikail Bridges led the team with 23 points including 5 three pointers. Sophomore guard Dante DiVincenzo came off the bench to play a team high 31 minutes and score 18 points and dish out 5 assists. As a team they shot 40 percent from the field and made 17 of their 41 three point attempts. They also made 16 of their 18 free throws. They out rebounded the Crimson Tide 35 to 33 and forced 15 turnovers while only having 10 of their own. Defensively, they had 6 steals and 5 blocks while holding an opponent under 60 points for the first time in their last 17 games. Alabama actually had a higher shooting percentage than Villanova at 42 percent but made just 4 of their 16 three point attempts. Villanova also committed 21 personal fouls to Alabama’s 13.
Villanova has won their last 7 games in a row and are playing as well as any team left in the tournament. They are 5 point favorites in this game and hit 31 three pointers in the first 2 games which is the most since 1990 when they won the National Championship. West Virginia is returning for the second year in a row and has an 8-5 records against Villanova teams coached by Jay Wright. The Mountaineers started this year off at 15-1 and were ranked as high as 2 in the rankings. They went 9-9 over their final 9 games to sink to a 5 seed.
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