By Annie Ross

Villanova got its Sweet 16 Monkey of its back today.

And the Wildcats also played like a true contender for the national championship.

Josh Hart (above) scored 19 points and second-seeded Villanova advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 with an 87-68 rout of seventh-seeded Iowa in the South Regional¬†at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center.

Villanova’s senior class, led by Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, made it to the tournament’s second weekend for the first time. They were upset in the round of 32 the last two seasons and didn’t make it that far as freshmen.

The Wildcats (31-5) will meet third-seeded Miami on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky.

There was no doubt in this one. Villanova led 54-29 at halftime and by as many as 34 points in the second half. The closest Iowa (22-11) got was 16 points in the final minutes.