Nearly four months ago, Oklahoma blew out Villanova in the Pearl Harbor Invitational, winning 78-55. Much more is on the line this Saturday when the two teams are scheduled to meet at NRG Stadium in the first game of the Final Four.
Villanova has only suffered four losses since then, and they’ve been about as impressive as any team in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. After getting to the Elite Eight by winning three games by an average of 24 points, the Wildcats upset No.1 overall seed Kansas. Even though both VIllanova and Oklahoma are No.2 seeds and the Sooners were victorious in their one head-to-head matchup, the Wildcats are a slight favorite in Houston.
Oklahoma was able to beat Villanova by hitting 14 three-pointers, shooting 53.8 percent from behind the arc. Isaiah Cousins led all scorers with 19 points, and Buddy Hield totaled just 18 points on six-of-17 shooting. The senior guard has been terrific during March Madness, including a 37-point performance in the Elite Eight against No.1 seed Oregon.
Hield is averaging 25.4 points per game and shooting 46.5 percent from three-point range. Even though he didn’t have his best game when the two teams met the first time, Villanova knows Hield will be very difficult to stop.
“He’s gotten a lot better since then,” Villanova guard Phil Booth said via USA Today. “But it helps playing him. We got a feel for how his game is, how hard he plays, how much he’s moving on the court. He’s nonstop, even when he doesn’t have the ball.
“He’s a threat anywhere on the court.”
Villanova has gotten balanced scoring in the tournament, but Ryan Arcidiacono might be playing the best of anyone on the team. He’s averaging 16 points per game over the last four games, while shooting 56.3 percent from the field and hitting 11 of 19 three-point attempts.
Oklahoma hasn’t been in the title game since the field expanded to 64 teams, and Villanova hasn’t been in the championship game since the Wildcats won it all in 1985.
Start Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TBS
Online Stream: NCAA March Madness Live