H. Rumph Jr/Associated Press
Villanova guard James Bell
Overall record: 28-4
Conference record: 16-2
I don't want to get all literary on you, but somebody wrote something once about a sword. I hope you'll pardon my paraphrasing, but in essence, what they wrote was, if you live by the sword, what can also happen is, you can also die by the sword. Not the same sword, necessarily, but the same concept of that sword.
Hope you're still with me. Because this concept applies to streak-shooting basketball teams, of which there are several on this list. Can they get hot and live? Sure. But it's also very, very possible they can get cold and die; you know, metaphorically.
And that's what makes Villanova so worrisome. It's been a path of low resistance for the 'Cats down the stretch, but they've still shown some big lapses. They lost on a buzzer-beater to Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinals, but also were far too close for comfort in February games against Providence, St. John's and Xavier, each of which they won by an average of four points.
Make up your own mind about how much stock to put in that segment of the schedule, but teams may have figured out how to guard them, which is to say, lock down the arc. The team only hit on 21 percent of its threes against Seton Hall, compared with 36 percent on the season. Guard James Bell—the leading point of that particular spear—hasn't scored more than 12 points since Feb. 18. And when in doubt, you can always put them on the foul line, where they drift along the bottom at a 71 percent team clip.
And talk about dying by the sword. The three ball is their top weapon, but also their top weakness. Wildcat opponents are shooting 35 percent from deep, a putrid 239th in the nation for three-point shooting defense.
You have to think opponents have watched the tape and know all this.
Finally, Villanova appears more motivated at times by a fear of losing or performing badly than a desire to win. This is not the time for shakiness, but it looks like that's where 'Nova's living. And there is some disturbing precedent here: In their last two dance appearances (2011 and 2013), they've lost in the first game, and in 2010 were upset in their second game as a No. 2 seed.