Something has to give tonight when the 6-0 Villanova Wildcats take on the 7-0 and 23rd ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The game will be played in the Imperial Ballroom turned Imperial Arena inside of the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas at 9:30 ET on NBC Sports Network.
The Wildcats upset the No. 2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks last night 63-59 to advance to the final game. Kansas, led by freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins, was the more talented squad, but they went 2-for-11 from behind the arc and Villanova’s three-guard lineup gave Kansas fits. Villanova outplayed Kansas all night, but the Jayhawks were able to keep it close until Ryan Arcidiacono knocked down a three with 10.1 seconds remaining. That pretty much sealed the deal for the Wildcats.
Villanova is led in scoring by junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston at 17.7 points per game. At 6-foot-7 and weighing 240 pounds, Pinkston is a very versatile player. He is strong enough to play inside and athletic enough to play on the wing. Aside from Pinkston, it is all about the back-court players for head coach Jay Wright. Pinkston leads the way in scoring average, but the next five players are listed as guards, most notably senior James Bell and junior Darrun Hilliard.
Iowa had a much easier semifinal game as they matchedup against UTEP. The Hawkeyes took a commanding lead early on and never looked back. They were able to put it on cruise control and rest their guys for tonight’s game. Iowa is an extremely deep team. Head coach Fran McCaffery can legitimately go 10 deep and not miss a beat. They are led by guard Roy Devyn Marble, who is averaging 15.7 points, 3.9 assists and 2.7 steals per game thus far. He is a jack of all trades that can score in many different ways. Averaging 13.6 per game, including 17 last night against UTEP, the second leading scorer for Iowa is Aaron White, a 6-foot-9 forward. White is a very long and versatile player who is incredible in transition. He is a great finisher around the rim and is among the league leaders at getting to the free throw line.
Both teams love to get up and down the court in transition. This game will probably be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. Wright and the Wildcats will surely give them a fight, but I think that the Hawkeyes prevail in this game. Villanova is coming off of a hard-fought battle against Kansas, and they had to give it their all to come out on top in that game. With Iowa’s depth and ability to push the ball up the court, I believe that the Hawkeyes will wear down the Wildcats in this one and escape as Battle 4 Atlantis Champions.