Friday, March 27, 2009

NCAA Sweet 16 - #3 Villanova Demolishes #2 Duke, 77-54 - 1st Win over Blue Devils Since 1958 - Wildcats Return to Elite Eight! (initial recap)

To the Villanova Wildcats faithful-

It was one for the ages.

The third-seeded Villanova Wildcats demolished the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night in Boston, 77-54, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

(Let that sink in for a moment...)

A 23-point victory over Duke in the NCAA tournament.

It was among the greatest Villanova performances of the 21st century.

It was the first Villanova victory over Duke since 1958, and their first victory over Duke in the NCAA tournament, since ousting Duke from its first-ever tournament in 1955.

Villanova allowed just 54 points, the second-lowest output for Duke this season. The entire team defense clicked tonight, crushing Duke's offense and never permitting the Blue Devils to get into a rhythm - Duke shot just 26.7% from the floor (a season-low for field goal percentage). making just 16 field goals. (Thanks, March Madness Highlights on CBS College Sports Channel for that last fact.)

The statistical heroes for Villanova were Dante Cunningham (14 points, 11 rebounds), Scottie Reynolds (16 points, three rebounds), and Reggie Redding (11 points, nine rebounds, four assists).

And in the most crowd-pleasing moments, Frank Tchuisi scored four points against Duke in the final minute.

It's now very much in the realm of possibility that the Wildcats could win the entire tournament. They will face top-seeded Pittsburgh - whom they've already defeated once - on Saturday at 7 PM or so...

This is just the brief, initial recap, but I'll be exploring the various aspects of the victory in a series of posts throughout today... so check back for much, much more, later today...

You can also take a look at the other Villanova blogs included in Various Viewpoints on the right sidebar, for their takes...

Go Wildcats!

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Anonymous said...

"It was among the greatest Villanova performances of the 21st century."

I think that's too limited a kudo. This game (and the prior game against UCLA) rank right up there with some of our greatest games in last 40-50 years. Shellacking of Penn in '71; beating UConn twice when it was ranked #1 in '95; beating UNC in Raleigh under Rollie and UNC twice in same season under Lappas.

I wouldn't put it in same league as the great '85 run (or the equally great '71 run), but as a game, I would argue it was huge and historic victory for us.

Here's the test for a great win: Will you remember the UCLA and Duke victories 20 years from now? My guess is the answer to that is "yes"!


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Seamus-

(Had to delete my original reply comment because it was too short...)

I agree with your assessment, and I think that the 20-year test you described is a good criterion.

Once this run is over, I'm going to offer some extended thoughts on exactly where the Duke Sweet 16 victory on Thursday should rank in Villanova's illustrious history... it's certainly up there with the ones you mentioned...

I think that it's the best one of the Wright era, which is eight seasons now. Although that could certainly change, depending on what happens in our next game - (and if at all possible, our next three games...)

I would concur that it ranks below the games you cited in 1985 and 1971; one factor that it's missing is the fact that it wasn't a stunning upset, given the 2/3 seeds, and I think at this rarefied level that the element of surprise is a major factor...

The other element is a dramatic ending - in this case, I would certainly rather have an absence of suspense, and it's a lot more enjoyable to be rooting for Frank Tchuisi to score in the final minute...

I'd use two examples from the Big East tournament-

One, the recent victory over Marquette... that was a far less important victory than Thursday, of course, but to me that passes the 20-year test as well - I'll remember that as the thrilling ending with Dwayne Anderson's shot rolling around the rim and finally dropping...

The other - since we're talking about Pitt this evening - is the Howard Brown three-point shot in transition to defeat Pitt in the 1998 Big East tournament in double overtime, 96-93. That team didn't even go to the NIT, but it was a highly memorable ending...

Go Wildcats! Beat Pitt - Final Four!