Villanova-American breakdown


NCAA East Regional First Round

Tonight, 7:20

Wachovia Center

TV/Radio: CBS3/ESPN (950-AM)

Records: Villanova 26-7, American 24-7

History: Villanova has won all eight meetings. This is the first time the teams have met since 1993.

How they got here: No. 3 seed Villanova received an at-large bid after finishing fourth in the Big East. American earned an automatic invitation by winning the Patriot League championship.

Coaches: Jay Wright is 174-90 in 8 years at Villanova, 296-175 in 15 seasons overall. Jeff Jones is 149-120 in 9 years at American, 295-224 in 17 seasons overall.

Three things Villanova must do:

1. Continue to do the things that put it in this position in the first place, and play like a No. 3 seed that has a 14 on its home-away-from-home floor. Dictate the tempo from the get-go, and don't give the underdog any reason to think it's got a real shot.

2. Don't get in foul trouble. The last thing Jay Wright needs to be worrying about is sitting somebody like Dante Cunningham or Scottie Reynolds too long. It's been a problem at times this season.

3. Don't let American get too happy from the arc. The three-pointer is the great equalizer in the college game. And the Eagles have the wherewithal to make things interesting from out there. If the Wildcats do get out in front, how about no more of those second halves we saw at the Big East Tournament?

Three things American must do:

1. Play like a team that has won 13 in a row and relies heavily on seniors. To have a chance, it has to play smart. Keep those brain freezes to a minimum.

2. Try to keep Villanova from getting out in transition and getting too many easy baskets. Make the Wildcats work as hard as possible for everything they get.

3. Shoot a relatively high percentage, especially early, particularly from deep. The longer American can hang around, the more pressure it puts on the team that's supposed to win. Maybe the crowd even starts pulling for the upset. Hey, that was what happened when the Wildcats played Monmouth in the first round 3 years ago.

What to expect: Most likely, a Villanova win. The Wildcats are obviously the better team. Sometimes, that doesn't matter at this time of year. I don't think American will just roll over and die. The 'Cats might even sweat for a while. But in the end, I think they get it done.


For Dick Jerardi's breakdown of UCLA-VCU, click here.

For Bob Cooney's breakdown of BYU-Texas A&M, click here.

For Ed Barkowitz's breakdown of UConn-Chattanooga, click here.