Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich)
Villanova faces an interesting task against third-seeded Miami on Thursday night in Louisville. Back in the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years, the Wildcats will see a team across from them that is very similar: Strong backcourt play, a stingy defense and veteran leaders. Here’s a breakdown of Villanova and the Hurricanes, by the numbers:
10.8: The points per game average from Miami sophomore Ja'Quan Newton, a Neumann-Goretti product. He’s playing in his first NCAA Tournament this season after the Hurricanes qualified for the NIT a season ago.
47.7: The Hurricanes have a slightly better field goal percentage than Villanova, though it’s just one of the stats where the teams are quite even. Villanova shoots it at a 47.4 percent clip, but the amount of 3-pointers the Wildcats take and make help their scoring average to be slightly above Miami’s – 77.5 to 74.5.
62.0: Villanova has held its opponents to 124 points through the first two games of the tournament – 56 from UNC-Asheville and 68 from Iowa. It’s right near the mark that the Wildcats have limited their opponent to this season, which is 63.6, the 15th-best mark in the nation.
66.7: Miami’s own defense isn’t too shabby, either. The Hurricanes allow 66.7 points per game to their opponents, tied for 50th in the country.
28: Angel Rodriguez, a senior guard for Miami, went off against Wichita State. He scored 16 of his 28 points in the early going and then came alive again late to help the Hurricanes fend off a furious Shockers comeback.
34: Early in the second half against the Hawkeyes, Villanova led by as many as 34 points. The seven other games in Sunday’s second round were decided by a combined 45 points.
23: That’s the margin of victory the Wildcats had in their last trip to the Sweet 16. Villanova, a No. 3 seed in 2009, drubbed No. 2 Duke, 77-54, outscoring Coach K’s squad by 20 in the second half. Scottie Reynolds had a game-best 16 points in the win, while the Wildcats held the Blue Devils to a 26.7 field goal percentage.
48.9: Villanova shot a combined 23-for-47 (48.9 percent) on treys in the first two rounds. Had the Wildcats somehow kept up that impressive mark for a season, it would’ve been the best in the country by five percentage points. Michigan State led the nation this season with a 43.4 3-point field goal percentage.
46: Miami played one other Big 5 team this season, absolutely dismantling an undermanned La Salle squad, 95-49, at the Palestra on Dec. 22. The 46-point defeat was the worst loss in Explorers history.
27: The number of points Allen Ray scored the last time these two teams played each other. The 27 points came in a losing effort, as the Hurricanes edged Villanova, 59-56, on March 2, 2004.