All previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule
Conference: Big East
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Date: Saturday, March 21
Time: 7:10 pm Eastern
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Villanova won their first-round game by 41; now they face NC State, who beat LSU by a single point.
Villanova NC State
SportsRatings Power Ratings
Strength: #5 Strength: #32
Median play: #4 Median play: #21
Road/Neutral Rank: #7 Road/Neutral Rank: #47
Other Power Ratings
Sagarin(predictor):#6 Sagarin: #34
Pomeroy: #5 Pomeroy: #38
Offense: #4 Offense: #30
Defense: #13 Defense: #89
LRMC: #3 LRMC: #33
BPI: #6 BPI: #37
Power Rating Derivatives
2nd half/season: #3 2nd half/season: #26
Last 6 games: #1 Last 6 games: #67
Injury correction: #5 Injury correction: #32
Consistency: #251 Consistency: #305
Deep Run Rank: #5 Deep Run Rank: #45
Best Shot: #6 Best Shot: #22
Schedule Strength: #33 Schedule Strength: #23
You know it's a hell of a year when a team like Villanova has their #1 seed credentials challenged at 32-2. Across the board the Wildcats are top ten, often top 5, except in defensive efficiency where they lag at #13. North Carolina State has played well at time, and ranks particularly well on offense. In very recent games, Villanova has taken over as the top team in the country, while North Carolina State has lagged—their last great game was 7 games ago. Are they due?
- Wins vs. tournament teams (13): =VCU+24, Butler+12, @St. John's+18, Xavier+13, Georgetown+16, @Providence+6, @Butler+3, Providence+28, @Xavier+12, St. John's+37, =Providence+2, =Xavier+17, =Lafayette+41
- Losses to tournament teams (1): @Georgetown-20
- Other losses (1): @Seton Hall-OT
Key Info: Villanova is the "forgotten" 1-seed, the one nobody's picking to win it all (or make the final vs. Kentucky). Maybe it's because they play in the 'new' Big East, or because they exited early last year (the last several years, actually). But the Big East placed 6 of 10 teams in the tourney, and last year's loss was to eventual champ UConn. And the Wildcats have been beating strong competition all year. They lost to Seton Hall when the Pirates were doing well, and to Georgetown in late January, and haven't lost since.
Darrun Hilliard moved into the #1 scoring spot this year with 14 per game, and after that it's very balanced with the next five around 10.0. Maybe that's the problem—no dominant superstars? A perfect example: against Lafayette six 'Cats scored in double figures, lead by Dylan Ennis' 16.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (5): Boise St.+6, Duke+12, @Louisville+9, @North Carolina+12, =LSU+1
- Losses to tournament teams (9): @Purdue-5, Wofford-1, =West Virginia-14, Cincinnati-16, @Virginia-10, North Carolina-2, Notre Dame-OT, Virginia-4, =Duke-24
- Other losses (4): @Miami FL-5, Clemson-11, @Wake Forest-4, @Boston College-16
Key Info: At 14-11, things didn't look good. NC State was coming off what could have been a 6-game losing streak (they beat Georgia Tech in overtime) and they had Louisville and UNC coming up. But over that 6-game stretch there were some bright spots: they lost by just 5 at Miami, took Notre Dame into overtime, and fell to Virginia by just 4 points. The next three games were critical for NC State's NCAA bid: they upset Louisville on the road, and two games later did the same to North Carolina. In all they won 6 of their last 8, but the two losses were pretty bad (BC by 16, Duke by 24) so some questions remain.
A trio of guards leads the Wolfpack, with Trevor Lacey emerging as top scorer with 15.8 ppg. Against LSU another member of the trio, Anthony Barber, led with 17.
Game Analysis: Villanova played a exceptional game against Lafayette;, but they've played at the same level in 4 of their last 5 games. NC State has to hope that Villanova is going to hit that 5th game instead. Even then, NC State would only have about a 50/50 chance.
The main question is whether Villanova gets complacent after winning by so much last time out. North Carolina State had to fight for a 1-point win and, as a big underdog, they will know they're going to have to scrap from the very beginning. If Villanova doesn't realize this and gets off to a slow start it could mean trouble for the 'Cats. 1-seeds don't have to worry about the first round, but they're in the cross-hairs every following round.
We figure Villanova still has something to prove—that they're just as good as any 1-seed. Until people start talking about how good Villanova is, they'll probably keep that attitude.
Villanova by 9 1/2
Power rating: spread
Villanova by 10.5
Game-comparisons: % Chance to win
NC State: 24.4%
North Carolina has a bit better than the historical 19% chance for an 8-seed to upset a 1-seed, according to the Strength power rating, which makes the Wildcats a low double-digit favorite. Vegas has Villanova by just shy of double digits.
Bottom line: Villanova is not going to beat North Carolina State by 40 points, but based on recent play we see the 'Cats rolling again.
Final prediction: Villanova 80, NC State 59
More previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule.