Villanova: NCAA's Cinderella from the Big East?

Patrick McGowanContributor IMarch 17, 2008

Can Villanova really be considered a Cinderella this year?  They come from the Big East, have been battle tested all year, and have proven they can win against NCAA tournament teams such as George Mason, Temple, Pitt, West Virginia, and Connecticut. 

However, by virtue of their last minute inclusion off of the bubble, Villanova will be a Cinderella should they advance.

How good are Villanova's chances of advancing?  While the chances are not as good as they are for Kansas or North Carolina to beat a No. 16 seed, they are still very good. 

Playing in the Big East, Villanova has had the opportunity to play against many styles.  They have experienced the constant full court pressing of Louisville, the relaxed zone of Notre Dame, the signature Syracuse 2-3 zone, the in your face Pitt defense, and the weak side shot blocking of Connecticut. 

This experience will help them when they face the full court pressure that Clemson employs.  With 6'9" forward James Mays at the point of the press, many teams have struggled to cope with smothering defense that Clemson plays. 

One key to breaking the press is a point guard with good court vision and ball handling skills.  Ty Lawson had success in breaking the Clemson press with his speed, court vision, and ball handling skills.  I expect Villanova point guard Scottie Reynolds to have the same success against the tenacious press.

Villanova fits the definition of a true team.  They have nine players that average more than 4.7 points per game, with Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham leading the team in scoring with 15.6 and 10.4 points per game respectively. 

They have had several players lead the team in scoring for a game and are not afraid to go 4 or 5 deep into their bench.  Against a team that likes to press and force the tempo, that could be a huge benefit to Villanova.

Prediction: Should the game stay in the 50s or 60s, advantage Villanova.  Should the game reach the 70s or 80s, advantage Clemson.  I believe the game stays in the 60s and Villanova advances to play Vanderbilt in the second round.