Sports

Almost Perfect: Villanova And North Carolina Romp At The Final Four

Our NCAA Tournament national semifinal recap goes inside the numbers of Villanova's historic blowout of Oklahoma, and North Carolina's suspense-free manhandling of Syracuse.

by Kevin Trahan
Apr 3 2016, 3:10pm

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This feature is part of VICE Sports' March Madness coverage.

And then there were two. Before North Carolina and Villanova meet in Monday night's NCAA men's basketball tournament national championship game, let's look back at a drama-free pair of Final Four games.

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A blowout for the ages

Most of the time, blowouts are boring. But when a blowout is so massive that it's difficult to comprehend, it can be one of the most exciting things in sports.

Villanova's 95-51 win over Oklahoma—a 44-point margin that is the largest in Final Four history—is the latter. This was a performance beyond comprehension in college basketball, the sort of statistical fluke that only happens once every few years. And this one happened in the Final Four!

Just look at these numbers:

●V illanova finished with a whopping 1.57 points per possession (PPP). When adjusted for throwaway possessions, the Wildcats had 1.51 PPP. Last year's Wisconsin offense—widely regarded as the best in the advanced stats era of college basketball—averaged 1.28 PPP. Over 100 possessions, Villanova would score 30 more points than that Badgers team, which never reached 1.57 PPP in any game. Oh yeah, and THIS HAPPENED IN THE FINAL FOUR!

● Villanova finished with an 82.7 percent effective field goal percentage. Only two teams have done that against another major conference team in the last six years—both of which came in the 2010-11 season. Everyone playing college basketball this season was in high school or middle school at that time.

● Amazingly, when these two teams met earlier in the season, Oklahoma won by 23. There has not been a bigger margin in a rematch since people started tracking that stat.

● Oklahoma took 11 more shots than Villanova but made 16 fewer of them.

● Villanova usually shoots 36 percent from beyond the three-point arc. It shot 61 percent against Oklahoma. The Wildcats usually shoot 57 percent on twos, good for No. 2 in the nation. They shot 77 percent in this game.

● Nine Villanova players attempted a shot in the second half, and none missed more than one.

It is nearly impossible for a team to play that well. Villanova has a very good team, but it has never come close to performing like this, much less against an opponent as good as Oklahoma. This is almost on par with Germany's 7-1 victory over Brazil, in Brazil, during the World Cup.

Competitive games are fun, but sometimes you just have to sit back and appreciate the kind of near-perfect performance you may never see again. It's a safe bet we saw that from Villanova.

TFW you're the only person in a Villanova jersey who wasn't getting buckets. Photo by Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina's two-point offense is impossible to stop

I wrote before this game that Syracuse could win by letting North Carolina shoot threes, because the Tar Heels are a weak three-point shooting team. The Orange did that, as UNC took 17 threes and made only four of them, but even that wasn't enough, as the Tar Heels still won by 17.

North Carolina hit 65 percent of hits two-point shots, and the Tar Heels rebounded 52 percent of the shots they didn't make, which meant that it was likely they would score on just about every possession they had when they didn't take a three.

As has been the case all season, this was Carolina's shot chart:

uncshotchart.jpg

That isn't an insult. It's actually fairly incredible how good UNC has been despite its three-point shooting. Consider this: the Tar Heels rank No. 294 nationally in three-point percentage, and they still have the most efficient offense in the country.

If North Carolina is hitting its threes, it can't lose. If the Tar Heels are missing from beyond the arc, as is typical and was the case against Syracuse, they'll still probably win.

A top-level national championship

In a 68-team single-elimination tournament, it's rare that the two best teams in the country will going meet for the National Championship. There's too much randomness in basketball, and it's hard to expect any team to win five games in a row against increasingly difficult competition to reach the title game, regardless of how good they are.

But this year, at least according to the advanced stats, the two best teams in the country will be playing on Monday night. Villanova ranks No. 1 in the KenPom.com ratings, while North Carolina ranks No. 2. The Tar Heels have the best offense, while the Wildcats' offense ranks second.

The last time No. 1 and No. 2 met was in 2008, which featured an incredible title game between Kansas and Memphis. Let's hope this year's game is just as good.

Tweet of the day

Sorry, Oklahoma. It will never get old.

VICE Sports Tom Crean Memorial Coach Photo of the Day

TFW the kettlebell swings and/or the Movantik pills are paying off. Photo by Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As always: you're welcome, America.

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