Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 20, 2016
There is no way to sugarcoat No. 7 Iowa?s 87-68 demolition at the hands of No. 2 Villanova in the second round of the NCAA tourney. It was through and utter domination.
Sometimes, a team is gonna have days like this. The Wildcats were just the better team … a WAY better team. This was Iowa?s worst NCAA loss since a 21-point defeat to Colorado in 1955.
Much credit goes to the Wildcats, who at one time looked primed to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. This is a good Villanova club that put on a clinic on both ends of the court, showing aplomb in making shots while also playing stifling defense in outscoring Iowa 18-0 in fast-break points.
Top star: For Iowa, freshman Nicholas Baer played aces off the bench with 15 points, his most since tallying a career-high 19 vs. Tennessee Tech. For Villanova, well, you could pick from a number of guys.
Top stat: 52.6, Villanova?s shooting percentage from 3-point land, as the Wildcats hit 10-of-19 from long range. That marksmanship from beyond the arc made operating inside even easier for Villanova, which had four players in double-figures led by 19 from Josh Hart.
The key to victory: Ball movement. Villanova put on a clinic, dishing 23 assists. The extra pass (and precision pass) led to myriad easy baskets for the Wildcats, who shot 59.3 percent and cruised to victory, putting them in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.
It was over when: This game was basically decided midway through the first half, and it was certainly over at the half, when Villanova owned a commanding 54-29. It was the most points any team has scored in a first half in the 2016 Big Dance. And it was the most the Hawkeyes had allowed all season in a half, as Villanova was emptying its bench with just under three minutes left in the game. The Wildcats basically did what they wanted, hitting 3-pointers, jumpers, layups and dunks along with buckets in transition in building a 25-point advantage at intermission. The final 20 minutes really didn?t need to be played. But, they were. And Villanova kept going all Harlem Globetrotters on Iowa.
What?s next: The season is over for Iowa, which went 3-7 in its final 10 games. The season once bustled with promise, as the program looked primed to win the school?s first Big Ten title since 1979. After a win at Illinois on Feb. 7, the Hawkeyes were No. 5 in the nation with a 19-4 record overall and a 10-1 Big Ten mark. Alas, Iowa finished the season 21-10 overall and 12-6 in league play. And the roster will lose four key seniors in Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury and Anthony Clemmons. And junior Peter Jok may turn pro. Bottom line: The Hawkeyes are left to wonder: What if?
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