Thirty-three days ago, Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats dispatched the Seton Hall Pirates, 81-71. A No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament dangled in front of the Wildcats.
Only days prior, they easily defeated Notre Dame . Analysts praised Wright and pointed to a deep bench that the ninth-year coach deftly deployed to his team’s advantage. Using 10 players at least 10 minutes or more, Wright continued encouraging aggressive play from his soldiers. There seemed to be no consequence for playing the attacking style.
Since the victory over the Pirates, Villanova has dropped five of nine.
Could the style of play, which brought so much early success, be the reason for Villanova’s recent slump?
Villanova followed the triumph over Seton Hall with a loss at Georgetown. The final score was 103-90. One could easily look at Georgetown’s point total as cause for concern.
How did Georgetown score so many points?
One possible contributing factor is this statistic—38-20. That is, the number of personal fouls committed by Villanova as opposed to those by Georgetown. As a result, the Hoyas made more free throws (39) than the Wildcats took (23).
Georgetown outscored Villanova at the line by 22.
Antonio Pena and Taylor King fouled out of the game. Corey Stokes, Mouphatou Yarou, Maalik Wayans, and Isaiah Armwood all finished with four apiece.
The trend continued when Villanova lost to UConn by nine. Referees whistled Villanova for 30 infractions to UConn’s 19. The Huskies graciously accepted Villanova’s charity going 35-44 from the stripe. Villanova went 16-20.
Pena, Stokes, and Maurice Sutton fouled out. Two Huskies finished with four offenses.
In their next contest, Villanova fell to Pittsburgh. The Panthers took advantage of 26 Wildcat sins going 26-34 from the line. Jamie Dixon’s team outscored Villanova by 15 in the free throw category.
Reggie Redding and King were disqualified. Pena, Scottie Reynolds, and Corey Fisher played the end of the contest with four fouls.
Jay Wright’s squad looked to reverse their fortunes against Syracuse . Instead, the Wildcats were whistled for 25 transgressions. Syracuse ended the game with 14. The Orange hit 24 of 33 free throws. Villanova went 13 of 18. Syracuse won 95-77.
Wright and his team have four days before playing in the Big East quarterfinals. Four days to change their ways. Four days before setting out on a potential return to the Final Four.