No. 1 Villanova landed a wild, come-from-behind win over No. 12 Virginia on Sunday afternoon thanks to redshirt freshman guard Donte DiVincenzo tipping in the game-winner at the buzzer:
Here are three things we can take away from this game:
1. Villanova’s comeback was unbelievable: You don’t comeback on a team like Virginia. You just don’t*. Part of it is because of the snail’s pace that they play at. Part of it is because they are, quite simply, one of the best defensive teams in the country. Being down 13 in the second half against them is like being down 23 to a normal team. And yet, the Wildcats were able to come storming back. It helps when players like Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins start making their open shots, but it doesn’t make the concept of erasing that deficit any easier.
*(Unless you’re Syracuse and it’s the Elite 8. Then you do.)
2. Ty Jerome is going to be a player: He’s Virginia’s backup point guard, and he’s just a freshman averaging less than 10 minutes a game, but he was the guy that had the ball in his hands in the biggest moments for UVA on Sunday afternoon. He finished with 15 points, including a driving layup with 11.5 seconds left that tied the game and left DiVincenzo nearly on the floor twice. It has taken him a while to break into the Virginia rotation, but in recent games, Tony Bennett has seemed to favor a lineup with Jerome at the point and London Perrantes off the ball down the stretch.
Now, some of that probably as to do with their opponents, Notre Dame and Villanova. Both play small-ball, and when Jerome was paired with Perrantes, the ‘Hoos had, essentially, four guards on the floor. But Jerome’s presence allows Perrantes to be the go-to guy, to play the Malcolm Brogdon/Joe Harris role, running off screen after screen after screen. It will be interesting to see whether he decides to stick with it down the stretch of the season.
3. Both teams had their flaws exposed: Both Villanova and Virginia are teams capable of getting to a Final Four, and both of them had the reasons that they may not make it that far exposed on Sunday. Villanova is a pretty good defensive team but they are not a great defensive team, so when their perimeter shots aren’t going down – like in the first half on Sunday or in Marquette loss on Tuesday – they are in trouble.
Virginia is the opposite. Their built around their defense, but their defense isn’t quite as unbeatable as it has been in past years. That’s understandable when you lose the likes of Brogdon, Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey and prepare for a season where you’ll have Austin Nichols at center. That defensive system is always going to be one of the best, but this year the ‘Hoos are playing it without a series of elite individual defenders. That makes a difference.