Save your arguments. The discussion is over. Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats are a blue blood in the college basketball landscape.
Last night, the Wildcats secured their 2nd NCAA Championship in 3 years by defeating the Michigan Wolverines 79-62 in San Antonio. After two Omari Spellman free throws made the game 25-23, Nova took the lead and never looked back.
All year long we went back-and-forth trying to decide whether or not Duke or Virginia were the best team in the country. Little did we know the beast from the Big East, Villanova, was the true heavyweight. With tournament wins overs Radford, a scary Collin Sexton-led Alabama, and the 3 best teams from the Big 12 (West Virginia, Texas Tech, & Kansas), we quickly learned that Villanova had the firepower to beat anyone in the country. And handily. The Wildcats beat their 6 tournament opponents by an average of 17.7 points per game.
The most terrifying thing about this dominant Villanova run is that it could—and probably will—happen again. Redshirt junior Mikal Bridges will be a lottery pick and is the only lock on the team to enter the NBA Draft. National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson graduates a year early this spring, making it increasingly likely he heads to the league as well.
Those two departures should not fool you. The championship spotlight was stolen by reserve Donte DiVincenzo’s career-high 31 points. And Fordham transfer Eric Paschall’s 10-of-11 shooting led the way for Villanova against Kansas. The Wildcats boast talent across the board. Jalen Brunson was sidelined for a large part of the second half and the Nova lead only widened.
A core of Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman, Connor Gillespie, and of course—the white Michael Jordan of Delaware—Donte DiVincenzo is a formidable returning cast. Combine that with incoming McDonald’s All-American point guard Jahvon Quinerly and the top-ranked recruiting class in the Big East, and you have quite a few weapons for Jay Wright to work with.
The elite recruiting class Jeff Capel put together at Duke will create matchup nightmares for any opponent. The uber-deep Kansas team Bill Self has assembled should continue their streak of Big 12 dominance. Calipari’s Kentucky team should make a jump back towards the top of the polls. But this Villanova program has proven they belong in the talk of the blue bloods.
Jay Wright joined Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams as the only two active coaches with two or more national titles last night against Michigan. Look for him to join Williams, Bob Knight, and Jim Calhoun in a tie for the 4th-most titles of all time next year.
The Villanova Wildcats are for real. And they are not going anywhere soon.