March 18, 2017
What a difference a year makes.
A year after rolling through the NCAA Tournament to capture its first title since 1985, No .1 Villanova failed to make it out of the first weekend, falling to No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the second round, 65-62.
The Wildcats were down early, but regained the lead in the second half, pushing it to seven points (57-50) with five and a half minutes remaining. But from that point on, it was all Wisconsin, who finished the game on a 15-5 run.
With under a minute reaming, Villanova guard Josh Hart was called for a walk with his team down by a point. On the ensuing inbounds play, Jay Wright dialed up a trap – and it worked.
Donte DiVincenzo got the steal and drew a foul on forward Nigel Hayes, but was only able to make one of two free throws to tie the game. Hayes, however, gave the Badgers the lead back on their next possession with an up-and-under layup, leaving Villanova down two with 11.4 seconds remaining.
Hart then took it right at the Badgers defense, but never really got a shot off as it was blocked by Ethan Happ. Vitto Brown got the rebound and was fouled with 3.4 seconds to play. Brown made the first, but missed the second, leaving 'Nova a chance to tie it. DiVincenzo got the rebound but had the ball knocked away and the Wildcats' season came crashing to an end.
Here are a few reasons why last year's champion – and this year's No. 1 overall seed – became the first No. 1 seed to be eliminated from the tournament.
Unlike their first-round win over Mount St. Mary's, the Wildcats didn't waste any time getting their first field goal – Hart scored on their first possession of the game. But after that, Jay Wright's team went the next five minutes without a field goal.
And the rest of their first half, well, that looked awfully familiar (and not in a good way). The Wildcats shot just 29.6 percent from the field compared to the Badgers' 54.2 percent.
After the first 20 minutes, Villanova was trailing Wisconsin, 31-27.
They're lucky it wasn't any worse than that.
Hart and DiVincenzo were almost entirely responsible for keeping their team in it, scoring all of the Wildcats' first 17 points and making plays like this:
They finished with 34 of their team's 62 points. Add in Jalen Brunson's 11 points, which included a few big second-half buckets like the one below, and those three players accounted for nearly 73 percent of their scoring.
Furthermore, those three guys were a combined 15-of-31 (48.3%) from the field. The rest of the team finished just 6-for-20 (30%).
The hero of last year's title game, Kris Jenkins, struggled for the second straight game and didn't hit his first field goal until there was under eight minutes left in the first half.
That's the biggest shot Kris Jenkins ever hit.— Brian P. Hickey (@BrianPHickey) March 18, 2017
But things didn't get much better for him in the second half as he finished with just 6 points on 2-for-9 shooting...
Villanova is -11 when he's on the floor. +15 with Paschall out there. https://t.co/a5QGKrVlmI— Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) March 18, 2017
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin