West Virginia couldn’t wait to get to Boston for their Sweet 16 game with No.1 seed Villanova on Friday.
A snowstorm along the Eastern Seaboard sent the Mountaineers into Boston a day early for their game against the Wildcats.
West Virginia (26-10) finished third in the Big 12 and second in the conference’s tournament. Villanova (32-4) won the Big East regular season. The Wildcats then claimed the conference’s automatic berth by winning the conference championship.
Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
West Virginia vs. Villanova: Game time, details
No. 5 seed West Virginia meets No. 1 seed Marshall at 7:37 p.m. ET, Friday March 23 at the TD Garden in Boston.
What TV channel is West Virginia vs. Villanova on?
The game between West Virginia and Villanova will be televised on CBS. Ian Eagle will be the play-by-play announcer. Jim Spanarkel will provide commentary. Allie LaForce will be the sideline reporter.
How can I watch West Virginia vs. Villanova online?
You can stream West Virginia vs. Villanova online using NCAA March Madness Live.
How can I listen to West Virginia vs. Villanova on the radio?
Fans in Morgantown can listen to the game on WZST-FM 100.9, in Charleston on WMXE-FM 100.9 and in Wheeling on WBBD AM 1400 along with more than 30 affiliates of the Mountaineer Radio Network across the state. To find a full list of West Virginia basketball affiliates, go here. A free streaming listening experience is available at the Mountaineers’ Tune-In App.
West Virginia-Villanova: Previews, keys to the game
The Mountaineers advance to the Sweet 16 and will be playing for their first trip to the Elite Eight since 2010.
Coach Bob Huggins’ team systematically dispatched both opponents in its first two tournament games. The Mountaineers beat Murray State 85-68. And then they hammered Marshall 94-71. In both games the Mountaineers featured four scorers in double figures. When they accomplish that feat this season, West Virginia is 20-2.
West Virginia’s pressing defense seemingly is made to order for single-elimination games. The fierce defensive pressure has limited tournament opponents to 40 percent field-goal shooting and forced 34 turnovers into 44 points.
Senior point guard Jevon Carter has led West Virginia with 24.5 points per game. He also averages 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 5 steals in those first two games. In those games, he has played like the nation’s best two-way guard.
But other areas of West Virginia’s strength has been apparent. The Mountaineers are shooting 50.3 in the tournament. They have piled up 62 bench points in the first two games and have limited opponents to 7 fast-break points in those two games.
Huggins cooked up a wrinkle for the Marshall game by flummoxing Marshall with a 1-2-2 press that hadn’t been revealed all season. It wreaked havoc on the Herd.
They steered away from those long droughts that occasionally popped up during Big 12 play. They certainly must avoid those against Villanova, the highest remaining team left in the tournament after Virginia’s loss.
West Virginia struggles in set defenses
West Virginia’s halfcourt defense hasn’t been nearly as effective. And that could be its biggest limitation against Villanova, which set a record by becoming the first team in tournament history to hit at least 14 3-pointers in successive games.
Villanova sank 31 3-pointers and is shooting 45.6 percent from beyond the arc in the tournament. And the Wildcats have a depth of institutional knowledge about Huggins’ switching array of zone defenses stemming from their history together in the Big East.
Point guard Jalen Brunson might be the ideal antidote to West Virginia’s pressure and is the nation’s leading candidate for Player of the Year. His play has been the biggest reason the Wildcats rank 11th nationally in turnover rate.
Coach Jay Wright’s team won the national championship in Houston in 2016. Rollie Massimino’s team cut the nets in Lexington in 1985 after a stunning upset over Georgetown.
Of Villanova’s top six players this season, five were members of the 2016 title team. Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth all had huge roles on that team.
The Mountaineers and Wildcats are frequent rivals over the years, owing to the Mountaineers’ previous membership in the Big East. Villanova holds a 22-20 edge in the series.
They have met twice previously in the NCAA Tournament, with Villanova winning both games in 1962 and 1980.
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