Villanova must have used up all of its magic last year.
After cutting down the nets in the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the No. 1 overall Wildcats were upset 65-62 by No. 8 Wisconsin on Saturday in the second round.
Here are three reasons why Villanova lost:
1. Lack of a third scoring option — Josh Hart, a national player of the year candidate, paced the Wildcats with 19 points, andDonte DiVincenzo provided 15 points off the bench while knocking down 3-pointers and slashing to the basket.
But where was Kris Jenkins? Where wasMikal Bridges? Both players came into the game averaging double-figure points per game, but scored a combined six points while shooting a combined 2 for 13 from the field. Point guard Jalen Brunson played better in the second half after an anonymous first-half effort, finishing with 11points.Usually possessing a balanced scoring attack, Villanova lacked scoring options in this loss.
2. An inability to stop Wisconsin's "big three" — Bronson Koenig was hot early, setting the tempo for the Badgers while making life uncomfortable for Villanova. The point guard finished with 17 points despite getting into foul trouble. Nigel Hayes, who has seemingly been in a Wisconsin jersey forever, was a load in the paint getting easy baskets on Villanova's undersized and less physical frontcourt. Hayes, who scored the game-winner, finished with 19points and eight rebounds.
Ethan Happ, arguably the Badgers' most recognizable name, fought off foul trouble to score 12 points with eight rebounds. He made sure Villanova usually only got one chance on offense, while also giving the Wildcats trouble on either block offensively.
3. The pressure of defending a title — Villanova looked tight all afternoon. Its tempo was slower than usual — though they are not a run-and-gun team — which played right into Wisconsin's hands. Hart played hard, but he struggled to get open looks and he got little help from his teammates.
Villanova started the game trying to drive, taking defenders 1-on-1. Wisconsin's solid defense made that difficult and Jay Wright never found an answer for his team. Winning an NCAA Tournament two years in a row is almost unheard of — Florida in 2006-07 was the last to do it — but Villanova certainly had the talent to win a couple more games this year.