By Bryan Zarpentine @BZarp on March 17, 2014
Among the high seeds in this year's NCAA tournament, the Villanova Wildcats have been one of the most overlooked teams. However, they've been a top-10 team for much of the season and are well deserving of being a No. 2 seed. Villanova should be considered a legitimate threat to reach the Final Four. Here are five reasons why they will get there and then take home the national championship.
The Big East isn't the same conference it was in previous years, but Villanova played plenty of tough in-conference teams. More importantly, outside of conference, they played tournament teams like Kansas, Iowa, St. Joseph's and Syracuse, leaving them well prepared for the tournament. The only teams that have beaten them this season are Syracuse, Creighton and Seton Hall, so they've been tested and match up well against a lot of teams.
The favorite emerging in the East is Michigan State, who's the No. 4 seed. But outside of the Spartans, who only emerged as a favorite after winning the Big 10 tournament, there's no clear front-runner in the East, leaving the door open for a team like Villanova that's been overlooked to come out of the region and get to the Final Four.
Tournament games often come down to being able to make shots, and the Wildcats have three players who made more than 50 three-pointers this season. So unless all three guys have an off night in the same game, they'll have somebody who can knock down outside shots. James Bell, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono all shoot a good percentage from the perimeter, making the Wildcats a difficult team to guard.
If Villanova reaches the second weekend of the tournament, they'll play the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds at Madison Square Garden, a building they've played in frequently over the years and a venue that's a lot closer to home than any other team they might play. This gives them a great level of comfort and a distinct advantage that can help propel them into the Final Four.
The Wildcats are one of the most balanced teams in the country with three players who average 14 points per game. They have great guards in James Bell and Darrun Hilliard who are balanced out by the inside presence of JayVaughn Pinkston. Villanova is effective inside and outside, and they play well on both ends of the court. That balance will allow them to win tournament games in a number of ways and be the team that ends up winning six games.
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