PITTSBURGH — Rebounding has been a shaky point for Villanova. Coach Jay Wright could not have been happy when four of Radford’s first seven points were on second chances and the undersized Highlanders had five offensive rebounds before the first television timeout at the 15:30 mark. Radford trailed just 12-7.
Getting beaten on the boards by a physical Big East rival is one thing, but the 16th-seeded champion of the Big South?
There’s no telling exactly how Wright explained this during the timeout, but the Cats got the message. Radford did not get another second-chance basket until the 8:40 mark. By then, Villanova led by 31-8 and the game was effectively over.
Villanova already used to short rotation
In the last 22 games, Mikal Bridges played fewer than 30 minutes just four times. For Jalen Brunson it was just five. For the season, four players averaged at least 29 minutes and two more averaged 27.
Villanova entered the NCAA tournament fully healthy, and the 87-61 blowout allowed Wright to substitute frequently. It was just the fourth time in 35 games that no Wildcat played 30 minutes.
This was ‘Nova’s fourth game in seven days. It will take three more wins in a week’s time to reach the Final Four. Every opportunity to rest weary legs is a good one.