On to the Elite Eight for Villanova in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Villanova Moves On By a Gritty 63 – 55 Win Over Michigan in South Regional Semifinal

March 24, 2022 –

Not pretty, but gritty is the description for how the second-seeded Villanova Wildcats defeated the #11 Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game in San Antonio. The Wildcats advance to the regional final and a chance to go to the Final Four. Credit the interior defense and interior offensive toughness for the victory.

Interior Defense Limited Michigan

Michigan wants to score in the seventies, it is where their offense is most effective. The Wolverines have a strong interior presence in the form of center Hunter Dickinson, the team leading scorer. He is supported by swing man Eli Brooks and Moussa Diabate. In the interior the Wildcats defense harassed the Wolverines into 15 for 43 shooting from inside the arc (34.8%) and many missed layups.

“They have great timing offensively,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Hunter Dickinson is used to getting the ball at certain spots at specific times on his cut. Our ball pressure was taking that timing off a little bit, so when he was catching it, he was catching it a little bit off his spot, and we were trying to hold
our ground. You saw a couple times he backed us down, it was automatic. We were trying to hold our ground, so instead of taking a five foot jump hook, it was an eight, ten foot jump hook. Sometimes he had to make a quick move and was moving a little quicker than he normally did. That’s what we were trying to do.”

Defense the Key for Nova

Guard Eli Brooks and DeVante’ Jones are proven scorers. Nova would limit the tandem to 21 total points and 6 of 18 shooting from distance. UM went to the free throw line 14 times, making just 7. Michigan averages 73.2 points per game and were held to nearly twenty-points below that mark. The points in the paint advantage totaled 28 – 26.

“I think we tried to pressure the ball a little bit more and not get into the paint for post-ups easy,” said Villanova guard Justin Moore about defending the Michigan guards. “Just being tough in the scoring area. We know they like to drive in the paint. Pressuring them and making them take tough shots.”

The Jermaine Samuels Factor

Nova forward Jermaine Samuels was assigned to Dickinson on defense. He used quickness and team-defense as to the key to success.

“I wanted to stay mobile,” Samuels said. “I understand my teammates are right behind me. They are going to make plays for me. They gave me all the confidence in the world. He (Dickinson) is a phenomenal player and he is going to get great looks at the basket. Knowing I had my teammates behind me gave me all the confidence I needed.”

And the Cats wanted Dickinson to work hard on the defensive end of the floor.

“We asked a lot of him (Samuels) on the defensive end guarding Dickinson a lot, but then on the offensive end we were trying to move Dickinson around, which it sounds good unless you’re the guy that’s got to do it,” Wright said. “If you’re the guy that’s got to do it, you’re running around setting screens, cutting to make him follow you.”

Stat Recap

Villanova got outrebounded, but by a 41 – 38 margin. In second chance points to Cats got more points 11 – 7.

Offensively Samuels led all scorers with 22 points making 8 of 13 from the floor and sank a perfect 5 of 5 from the line. He also stole the ball twice and blocked two shots. Justin Moore had 15 points while Collin Gillespie added 12 points.

For Villanova, rest up, and get ready to play their best on Saturday.


Written By: Glenn Papazian

Contact: glenn@phillycollegesports.com

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