Second Round Observations
The Second Round of the NCAA Tournament tipped off in Downtown Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, WGR 550's Brian Koziol and Pat Malacaro were courtside for the action between West Virginia and Notre Dame, and Villanova and Wisconsin.
- West Virginia’s press was a huge reason why they advanced to the Sweet 16. Notre Dame committed 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, they only had six total in the entire game against Princeton in round one. The Mountaineers led the game 10-0 to start and the Irish played even with them the rest of the way but could never get the game back to a single possession.
- Battle of strengths stat: Key matchup in game won by West Virginia. The Mountaineers were #1 in the country in forcing turnovers; averaging 20.3. Coming into the game, Notre Dame was #1 in the country committing turnovers; averaging 9.3 per game.
- I think West Virginia can beat Gonzaga if they meet in the Sweet 16. Their size, athleticism and ability to shoot from outside can really pose problems. They have beaten the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor, Virginia, Oklahoma State and now Notre Dame. That’s an impressive resume in my opinion. West Virginia is known for their defense but they can score. With its 83 points Saturday, they established a new school record for points in a season that was set in 1959.
- Bonzie Colson is such a great leader on the floor. He talks to his teammates virtually every possession. He makes the right decisions with the ball and also played very disciplined as he played in foul trouble for most of the 2nd half. Colson was even prompting the Notre Dame sections of fans to get to their feet to try and lift the team’s comeback efforts.
- Notre Dame has now played 20 times in the City of Buffalo. Prior to this week’s games, the most recent trip occurred in Mike Brey’s second year (15 years ago), an 84-73 win over Canisius.
- West Virginia and Bob Huggins love playing in Buffalo. The Mountaineers are now 4-0 all-time here in NCAA Tournament play. They are 5-0 all-time at Key Bank Center and 13-4 all-time in school history playing in Buffalo. Huggins on playing here: “Listen. I love coming to Buffalo. I came here in ’93, World University Games, we won. Played Canisius in ’07, and we won. Came here in 2010, and we won too. And we just won two now. I love Buffalo. Anytime you want to invite us to come back, we’ll come back. Thank you.”
- Villanova senior guard Josh Hart has been a huge reason why the Wildcats are back in a position to try and win another title. Hart has already won this season’s Big East Player of the Year honors, along with the Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player and has been named 1st team All-American by numerous outlets.
- Villanova’s last trip to Buffalo involved a game they would like to forget in 2014. They lost to eventual National Champion UConn 77-65 here in the second round.
- Big 4 vs Big 5: While in Buffalo, we often refer to the local hoops teams (UB, Niagara, Canisius & St Bonaventure) as the “Big 4”, in Philadelphia, the teams are referenced similarly with the exception of the quanity. Philly hoops fans use the term “Big 5” to talk about Villanova, Penn, St Joe’s, LaSalle and Temple. Villanova completed a perfect 4-0 sweep of the teams this season.
- While you may not think of Wisconsin as a ‘college basketball power’, the Badgers can boast about having the most NCAA tournament wins of any school since 2014. Wisconsin came into the game with 12 wins, one more than Kentucky, three more than Villanova over that span. Duke and North Carolina have 8 wins in that time period.
- Villanova and Wisconsin never previously met in the NCAA tournament. In fact, they’ve only played once ever before this weekend. Villanova won a matchup in 1996 in the Maui Invitational.