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Friends with Bennies: Villanova

Trading Q's and A's with our Villanova counterparts, VU Hoops

I'm so pumped for today's game I can't think straight. Luckily yesterday I was coherent enough to put a few questions together for Chris Lane at VU Hoops, who has done a great job covering the tournament and previewing tonight's game. Let's get right to it:

The UConn Blog: It's so awkward to be speaking like this post breakup, you look really nice by the way... Obviously UConn fans aren't as familiar with Villanova as we have been in the past. In fact the only games I watched were the first Creighton game and one Georgetown game. Give us the 30 second scouting report on this 'Nova team.

VU Hoops: Small-ball is back on the main-line. The 'biggest' Villanova will go is when they put 6'6" JayVaughn Pinkston next to the 6'11" Daniel Ochefu in the post - though their height deficiencies are covered by having several lengthy guards and wings on the court. We shoot a ton from 3. If we're making them, we're very tough to beat. If not, we tend to get in to scrap fests, and rely on our defense, which is pretty damn good

TUCB: Two games stand out to me as I look at your regular season results, the blowout losses to Creighton. I remember in the first one they just wouldn't stop making threes. Was it more of the same the second time around?

VU: Pretty much, although Doug McDermott was even more lights out while some of the other players cooled off a bit. I think it both games they shot well over 50, and maybe even 60% from beyond the arc in a ton of attempts. They are just not a good matchup for Villanova for whatever reason. They space the floor really well, and are more interested in shooting 3s than finishing an open layup. Villanova puts a premium on defending the paint, so it didn't end well.

TUCB: The winner of this game goes to MSG for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, so it would basically be a home game for either of us. How far do you think 'Nova can go if they win tonight?

VU: Call me a homer [EDITORS NOTE: Homer!], but the National Championship is their ceiling. Now that Iowa St. has lost Georges Niang, they look a bit weaker so the Elite 8 is realistic if 'Nova can get by UConn. From there, you need some luck on your side. The Elite 8 seems the most realistic landing spot because Michigan St. looks VERY good

TUCB: You guys went a little dormant after the final four run in '09. What caused the slip and what brought you guys back? What is the fan consensus opinion on Jay Wright? (besides being the best dressed coach in CBB)

VU: Jay Wright had a great interview about it in one of the local papers the other day. Essentially, he got lazy. He stopped teaching the principles that he had to rely on when he didn't have insane talent. After the '09 Final 4, 5-star players started lining up to attend, and Wright just tried to lean on their talent. He's now started recruiting those under-the-radar 4-star type of players that want to work hard again, and the results last year and this year have been fantastic.

TUCB: What are the things that UConn needs to do well to beat this Villanova team and what is your prediction for the game?

VU: They need to protect the ball and make some shots, which with Boatright and Napier we know they can do. Most teams that find success against Villanova seem to pound them inside and hit their 3s when open. I don't know that UConn has the personnel inside to expose Villanova, but their guards should give our bigger wings some trouble with their quickness. If Napier and Boatwright are on, it should be a fun game. I think Villanova's depth allows them to edge this one out, but it will come down to the final few possessions.

Thanks to Chris for the answers, really appreciated the insight. May the best team win tonight.