Villanova’s offense vs. UNC’s defense
The No. 2 seed Wildcats have four 3-point shooting threats in Ryan Arcidiacono, Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart (listed in descending order of accuracy, with Arcidiacono at 38.9 percent and Hart at 35.8 percent). Daniel Ochefu can hurt opponents inside against one-on-one coverage. Villanova has the second-most efficient offense in the country, according to KenPom.com, averaging 1.22 points per possession. In their historic 95-51 beatdown of Oklahoma, which has the 15th-best defense in the country, Villanova averaged 1.484 points per possession.
Beyond their numerous 3-point attempts, the Wildcats make 57.3 percent of its 2-point shots, second-best nationally (behind Belmont) and makes 78.2 percent of its free throws, also second-best in the nation (behind Connecticut).
While UNC’s defense has been tremendously better in the NCAA tournament than it was earlier, the No. 1 seed Tar Heels have not faced a challenge quite like Villanova.
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UNC’s offense vs. Villanova’s defense
While Villanova has the second-most efficient offense in the country, the Tar Heels rank No. 1. UNC does it in a completely opposite style, going inside to Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks instead of jacking up 3s.
The Wildcats don’t have the size to match the Tar Heels, so the 6-foot-10 Brice Johnson could prove to be a challenge to contain, especially down low. But Villanova will be able to switch on ball screens with all four of its shooters and throw a variety of different defenders on him, with 6-foot-6, 240 pound Kris Jenkins drawing the primary assignment.
Keep in mind that the Wildcats were able to shut down Kansas’ Perry Ellis, who averaged 16.9 points on the year (4 points on 1-of-5 shooting in the Elite Eight) and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who averaged 25 points (9 points on 4-of-12 shooting). Villanova’s defense ranks 6th nationally, according to KenPom.com.
The Wildcats go eight deep, with forward Darryl Reynolds spelling Ochefu and guards Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges relieving the guys on the perimeter. No team, though, can match the Tar Heels’ depth in terms of quality and quantity, with Nate Britt and Theo Pinson on the perimeter and Isaiah Hicks and Joel James inside.
No team is hotter than Villanova. The Wildcats just turned in the biggest Final Four win in history, knocked off the overall No. 1 seed (Kansas) in the Elite Eight and blew out Miami (92-69), Iowa (87-68) and UNC Asheville (86-56) in earlier rounds. The Wildcats have two senior captains in Arcidiacono, an off-ball point guard, and big man Ochefu.
The Tar Heels have their own two senior captains in Marcus Paige, an off-ball point guard, and big man Johnson. UNC, too, has played exceptionally well all tournament, though the Tar Heels just beat Syracuse by 17 points, not 44. In all seriousness, these are two proud teams. Villanova is carrying the banner for its 1985 championship team, the city of Philadelphia and the Big East. UNC and its 19 Final Fours take a backseat to no one.
Both Wright and Williams are well respected in their profession and have two of the highest profiles. Williams does have a significant edge in experience: this will be his fifth national championship game (2-2 previously). Wright will be coaching in his first title game Monday night.
Villanova (34-5) projected starters
Jalen Brunson 9.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
Ryan Arcidiacono 12.4 ppg, 4.3 apg
Josh Hart 15.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg
Kris Jenkins 13.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Daniel Ochefu 10.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg
North Carolina (33-6) projected starters
Joel Berry 12.6 ppg, 3.8 apg
Marcus Paige 12.3 ppg, 3.7 apg
Justin Jackson 12.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Brice Johnson 17 ppg, 10.5 rpg
Kennedy Meeks 9.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg