By Martin Banchoff
Villanova is limping into March Madness, and the Cats have drawn 23-1 Winthrop as a first-round opponent.
They lost senior guard Collin Gillespie to a torn MCL on March 3, and then lost to Providence to close the regular season and to No. 8 Georgetown in the Big East tournament after the injury.
Winthrop plays as fast as any team in the tournament, which means Villanova will struggle to slow the game and grind out a win.
“They’re really average without Gillespie. He’s a poor-man’s version of [the Celtics] Payton Pritchard, who does everything for them. Gillespie is the primary ball-handler, which means guys are out of position,” one scout told CBS Sports.
“Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is going to have to be Superman for them. The problem is that there’s no one to facilitate the offense.
“I could have seen them winning a few games with the right matchups. They’d have to put a checking line in and dump the puck in the corners and grind it out. They can only play a certain way at this point.
“With Chris Arcidiacono playing 30-plus minutes at the point, a team with quickness at the guard spot can get after the ball and make them uncomfortable.
“They have a chance if they’re able to get into the half-court and space out and under Robinson-Earl in screen-and-roll, which would give Justin Moore and Caleb Daniels a chance in space.”