By John Fanta
SAN ANTONIO – “I feel bad for Kansas.”
Those were the words of Jay Wright after Saturday night’s 95-79 Villanova win over the Jayhawks for the Wildcats to advance to their second national title game in three years.
“They’re a great team, but we just made every shot,” the head coach added.
That’s what it felt like on Saturday, when the Wildcats started the game on a 22-4 run. They proceeded to shoot 18-of-40 from three-point land to break a Final Four single-game record of 13. When it was all said and done, they ended up shooting 55 percent from the field.
“It’s our best offensive team,” said Wright. “We’ve had some good ones, but this is definitely our best.”
Even the head coach has run out of superlatives for his program, calling the recent run of success “surreal.”
Saturday’s win felt like it in a lot of ways. For starters, Eric Paschall scored a career-high 24 points on 10-of-11 from the field. When the third or fourth scoring option does that, well, good luck. Hence, there’s why Wright felt bad.
The Fordham transfer was one of six Villanova players who scored in double-figures, as National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson had 18 points and six assists of his own.
The Cats just made it look easy against the best the Big 12 has to offer, after downing two other opponents from the conference. The Big 12 finished first in conference RPI according to Warren Nolan.
But make no mistake about it – it’s not about Kansas or Texas Tech or West Virginia. Saturday’s blowout had everything to do with Villanova and the monster they’ve become. When the Wildcats play their best basketball, this program is untouchable, as illustrated by the 164-21 record in the last half-decade.
Even on Sunday’s rock fight win over Texas Tech, Villanova found a way. On Saturday, though, the clunker was past the Wildcats. Yet, Jalen Brunson echoed the team’s versatility postgame.
“If we weren’t making shots (tonight), I feel like we would grinded that game out, maybe win by one or two possessions,” the star point guard said.
That confidence that the players have in one another is why Villanova is 40 minutes away from the program’s third title, and second in the last three years.
“It’s not a dream for me because it’s not something you dream about,” said Wright.
On Monday, what is beyond Wright’s dreams can become a reality. Michigan is the final one standing between them and the crown.