Men's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament East Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

East Region Elite Eight Game Breakdowns
It is amazing and definitively scary for opponents that Villanova vanquished West Virginia in the Sweet 16 by a dozen points. In many respects, the Wildcats played as bad a game as they possibly could have…and still won going away. Nova encountered major foul trouble (as did WVU) in the first half and threw the ball away carelessly too often. The team’s best press break was having Jalen Brunson attempt to seal off a press defender. There was no motion, no back screens, and no help. Through to the second half, Mikal Bridges was a non-factor for most of the contest and may have seen his NBA Draft stock take a hit after an ego-devouring block by Sagaba Konate. Donte DiVincenzo played one of the worst games of his career to boot. Even through all that, Villanova shot the lights out, made its free throws, and won by a comfortable margin. The top six on the Wildcats are better than anyone else’s, which is most evident when two or three of them have off nights.
In the second regional semifinal, the Texas Tech Red Raiders hung on for the victory over the Purdue Boilermakers by a surprising margin as well. This match featured uncanny defending without fouling from both sides before TT pulled away in the final five minutes. Purdue didn’t shoot a single free throw in the entire first half. Both teams mounted separate six-plus minute scoring droughts in the first half alone. Texas Tech capitalized on numerous forced turnovers and second-chance points. It collected enough offensive rebounds to make Purdue fans wish Isaac Haas had found a way to take the court in this one. Despite Haas’ absence, the Boilermakers were pushing the ball down low early, scoring 12 of their first 15 points in the paint. It didn’t last as the turnovers mounted. Keenan Evans, Tech’s leader, managed one field-goal attempt in the first 18 minutes of the game and finished with just three made field goals for the game, but a defensive team effort moves his squad to the East regional final for the school’s first ever berth in the Elite Eight.
Villanova versus Texas Tech will pit offensive firepower against defensive forcefulness. Depth will challenge depth. Nova can survive if any of its top players have an off night, though Brunson is the key cog to get movement. Tech proved it can survive a quiet outing from Evans, though it shouldn’t make a habit of it. Whether the pressure got to him at the start or he was forcing the action to teammates, Evans needs to be more assertive with his shot against the Wildcats to keep the Red Raiders offense within shouting distance. He did get to the line 10 times by the end of the Sweet 16 but finished 3-of-8 from the field in total. Villanova has no problem laying huge runs on opponents, even when it appears to be scuffling against an elite and active defense. That is the hill Texas Tech has to climb to reach the Final Four.