Wow. Just wow.
Five months after a 23-point loss to Oklahoma, the Villanova Wildcats shook NRG stadium and college basketball to its core with a diabolically impressive 95-51 victory in the Final Four Saturday night. It was the largest margin of victory in Final Four history.
And 31 years after winning their only National Championship, the Wildcats now stand one win away from a second, with the title game to be fought Monday night in Houston.
The Wildcats looked unstoppable and are clearly playing the best basketball on the planet right now (sorry Spurs and Cavaliers). Here's a brief look at three -- of many -- reasons why Philadelphia is feeling awfully proud right now:
The Wildcats didn't waste anytime turning their aggressive defense loose on the Sooners, creating seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes of play and holding the typically potent Oklahoma offense scoreless for a seven-minute stretch in the first half. As a result, Nova led 42-28 after the first 20 minutes.
In all, Villanova created 16 Oklahoma turnovers and held the Sooners to a dreary 31.7 percent shooting from the field. They also outscored them in the second half 53-23 while limiting Buddy Hield to nine points, and the Sooners to an ugly 6-for-27 mark from 3-point range.
Villanova shot 35-for-49 from the field Saturday and posted an intimidating (to their ACC opponent in the upcoming title game) 95 points. They kicked things off with a thoroughly impressive 21-4 run in the middle of the first frame, at one point leading the Sooners by 16 points. The team not only took smart shots from beyond the arc (they were 11-for-18), they also were not shy to drive the lane and create easy offense in the cavernous NRG stadium.
In the second half, incredibly it was more of the same as the Cats built their lead to 31 midway through the stanza on a 25-0 run and posted the second-best shooting percentage in Final Four history at a ridiculous 73.7 percent from the field before clinching the 44-point win.
Playing with Hart
In one of the most memorably dominant Final Four games in history Josh Hart set the tone, going 7-for-8 in first half for 15 points and finishing with 23 (on 10-for-12 shooting and also nabbing eight boards). The junior's efficiency with the ball, sly decision making and potency driving the lane and pulling up was the Wildcats' offense in a microcosm.
He had plenty of help as Kris Jenkins had 18 points and eight rebounds, Ryan Arcidiacono had 15 points, Daniel Ochefu had 11 and Mikal Bridges had 10. Just one Nova player, (Jenkins with four) had more than two missed shots in the game.