A few weeks ago at the Big East Tournament, FS1 college basketball analyst Reid Forgrave watched Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono dive over press row and three rows into the stands in a futile attempt to save a ball that was more or less a lost cause from the start.
It was tough, it was scrappy, it was vintage Villanova.
“That is what they have come to expect from this team,” Forgrave said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “These guys, I don’t mean to be cliche, but they are the hardest-working team in college basketball. They really are. When you watch them play, Jay Wright is a great coach and these guys, they are not of this era. This is the era of one-and-dones and these guys are the opposite of one-and-done. They are players who come to Villanova and say they want to play Villanova basketball and they come and develop into that type of player. It’s not sexy. It’s kind of boring, to be completely honest. But this is what all of the old-school basketball fans want from college basketball. So in that way, I think we should all be rooting for Villanova (against North Carolina in the national championship).”
Of course, if anything was boring this past weekend, it was Villanova’s 95-51 destruction of Oklahoma in the Final Four. Six Wildcats finished in double figures, including Josh Hart, who scored a game-high 23 points, while Buddy Hield finished with nine points on 1-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
“Who would have thought the three-pointer that Buddy Hield hit 23 seconds into the game was going be the last three-pointer of his career? Nobody,” Forgrave said. “Let’s be honest. Those first two games were among the worst two Saturday games in Final Four history. They were snoozers. Look, Buddy Hield was awesome. The dude had an incredible senior season, an incredible college career. I think he will definitely be a lottery pick, and yet, what a disappointing – or as he called it, ‘embarrassing’ – end to a college career.”
Villanova’s 45-point win was the most lopsided in Final Four history. The previous mark was 34, which was shared by Cincinnati (against Oregon State in 1962) and Michigan State (against Penn in 1979).
The Sooners shot just 31.7 percent from the floor and 6-of-27 (22.2 percent) from three.
“There’s no way they could have beaten Villanova on a night when Villanova shoots 72 percent from the field,” Forgrave said, “but they didn’t even look like they wanted to be there. With 12 minutes left, Lon Kruger’s in timeouts saying, ‘Stop looking at the score, guys. Just play basketball.’ It was embarrassing. It was so sad. It was almost one of those beatdowns where you want to avert your eyes. It’s not to take anything away from Oklahoma’s season. These guys were incredible. But they completely lost their composure and didn’t get it back. It’s rare that you see that on the biggest of stages, a team that just so clearly looks defeated. It dragged me down. I felt super sad in the locker room that I had just watched that.”