Full Q&A Below:
SOTU: This game could very well come down to the match-up at PG. Tell us about Ryan Arcidiacono's game. What does Angel Rodriguez have to do to get the better of him? How does Arcidiacono compare to say Wichita State PG Fred VanVleet?
CHRIS: Arch is pretty close to the opposite of Angel Rodriguez. It's very rare that you'll see a highlight-reel type of play from Arch (unless you consider floor/table dives a highlight), but you'll rarely see him make a mistake that makes you scratch your head. As Jay Wright has brought in more talent around him, Arch has become less of a scorer and more of a facilitator. However, he's really stepped up in the stretch run. He's shooting well, driving the ball well, and generally making his impact felt everywhere.
Rodriguez can bother Arch a bit by getting in his grill. He might defer to others if that happens and keeping Arch from getting in to a rhythm is a big deal. If he gets going early he's shown a few times this year that he can really pour it on from everywhere on the floor. I'd also expect Villanova to put in a couple of sets to get Arch the ball on the low-block. He's developed a little post-up game and given the height difference they could look to exploit it.
SOTU: With the exception of 6'11 Daniel Ochefu, Nova seems to get most things done with 4 guards. Are they susceptible on the glass?
CHRIS: Villanova is not good on the offensive glass, plain and simple. They run a 4-out-1-in offense that will either get open jumpers or high-percentage shots at the rim. To an extent, they just don't try to hit the glass offensively and that leaves them open to tough nights when the shots don't fall. They're pretty solid on defense though, and that's because Daniel Ochefu and Josh Hart are among the best rebounders in the country. When 'Nova is committed to rebounding the ball on defense, they're a tough out. They're one of the best defensive teams in the country for a reason, and it's because they don't give up much inside.
SOTU: What are the Wildcats overall strengths and weaknesses as a team?
CHRIS: Much like Miami, the guard-heavy lineup can be a pain in the ass to guard. Arcidiacono will pair with Jalen Brunson and/or Phil Booth and Wright won't be afraid to go ultra small with Mikal Bridges at the 5 in spurts. That flexibility, plus their ball movement, can put teams on skates. The media has made a lot of the three-point shooting - some fair and some not - but this team is about defense. If you watched the first half against Iowa you'll know what I mean. They can just destroy and overwhelm teams and get out and run and put games away quickly. They've done is two straight games, but Miami will be a much bigger test with their elite offense.
The two big issues are their tendency to get three-happy when the shots aren't falling and their lack of depth in the frontcourt. Daniel Ochefu is still coming back from an ankle-injury, but looks good. Darryl Reynolds is having a breakthrough season, but is better served spelling Ochefu. After that, it gets dicey. The three-pointers have been falling lately - they look like they're hot at the right time. But that can go away quickly. When it goes, will they adjust?
SOTU: Ball pressure seems to be a big part of how they play D. Does Jay Wright ever throw out any zone? Any junk defenses the 'Canes should worry about?
CHRIS: Wright has deployed a 2-3 zone more often this year as a change of pace weapon. There are differing opinions on how good it is, but even though it tends to get ripped up by good teams I think it's nice to see Wright doing something new. It has definitely flustered opponents and forced some bad shots as often as it has gotten torn apart.
Their 1-2-2 press is the thing to keep an eye on though. They'll do it after a made basket, and it's at its best when Mikal Bridges is spearheading it. His length is disruptive and it can lead to easy points. Given Miami's ball-handling ability I would expect to see it used mostly to slow the Canes down and get them out of rhythm, rather than a turnover-generating tool.
SOTU: Which players/match-ups on the Hurricanes concern you most?
CHRIS: Given how great he looked last weekend, Angel Rodriguez is the danger man for me. Arcidiacono will likely start on him but I'd expect to see Brunson and Phil Booth take turns trying to slow him down. Booth is a very good on-ball defender. I think Hart vs. McClellan is going to be all sorts of fun. Similar players with a similar drive and whoever gets the best of the other probably has a huge impact on the outcome.
Daniel Ochefu and Tonye Jekiri is probably the most vital though. The value goes downhill fast for both teams if one gets in foul trouble, so how those two manage their minutes and their impact on the game should be interesting to watch.
SOTU: Give me your all time Villanova starting 5. Heck for fun throw in a 6th man.
CHRIS: Because it's going to cause an uproar on VU Hoops if I do, I won't pretend like things started in the Jay Wright era (about when I started at the school and became a fan). I didn't get to see a lot of these guys play, but I'll take the word of the old guard:
G - Kyle Lowry
G - Scottie Reynolds
G - Paul Arizin
F - Howard Porter
F - Ed Pinckney
6th Man - Kerry Kittles
SOTU: Last but certainly not least, how do you see this game playing out? Who wins and why?
CHRIS: If you had asked me before the tournament, I probably would have said Miami. Given how good Villanova has looked and how Miami hasn't put together a full 40 minutes yet, I'm inclined to think that Vegas has the spread pegged just about right at the moment (-4.5). I'm wary of Miami's guards and how athletic and tough they are. The last time Villanova saw a unit close to this was Oklahoma, and that did not go well. Now that the chokers moniker is off their back, I expect the Wildcats to continue to play loose and free just like they did in Brooklyn and fend off the Canes 74-70.
Thanks again to Chris for working with us.
We certainly do not agree with his prediction, but we appreciate his insight.
You can find much more great content on Villanova over at VU Hoops.
And my answers to Chris' Q's can be seen HERE.