Some teams hit their peak in March, and the 2016 Villanova Wildcats are the epitome of that group.
The Wildcats trounced the Oklahoma Sooners, 95-51, in the first Final Four game in Houston, Texas on Saturday night. The 44-point margin was the largest deficit in Final Four history.
This has not been their only game that has ended in a blowout on their way to the championship game, as they also defeated UNC Asheville, Iowa, and Miami by large winning margins en route to the big dance's final destination.
Villanova has now advanced to the national championship game, where they will face the winner of the second Final Four game between the Syracuse Orange and North Carolina Tarheels.
Offense Explodes For Villanova
Villanova was led by the offense in their first game of the tournament, and was the first team since Connecticut in 1985 to score 85+ points in their first three tournament games. Although their offense was slowed down against the title favorite Kansas Jayhawks in the Midwest Regional Final last weekend, they were able to squeak out the win.
After the off-game last game, the Wildcats' offense was at their best ever against Oklahoma. The team exploded for 95 points, and their shooting percentages were simply off the charts. They shot 71.4 percent, and knocked down 61.1 percent of their attempts from deep.
Six players finished in double-digit scoring for the Wildcats. Josh Hart was sensational, finishing with 23 points after hitting 10-12 shots. Kris Jenkins also played great, ending with 18 points. Both players also grabbed eight rebounds apiece. Ryan Arcidiacono finished with 15 points, while Mikal Bridges added 11 points off the bench. Daniel Ochefu and Phil Booth each finished with 10, while Jalen Brunson added eight.
All season, Villanova thrived in a balanced scoring attack, sharing the scoring. Saturday's matchup was another one of those days. The team did a good job spreading the load and make sure the Sooners played tight defense on every player.
Villanova made 11 three pointers Saturday, four from Jenkins and three from Arcidiacono, while the Sooners struggled from deep shooting, going just 6-27.
Massive Runs Lift Wildcats
In the opening minutes, it seemed this would game would be the long, gritty type, one that ends up going down to the wire. Neither team could jump out to a big lead, and the teams were trading buckets for about nine minutes.
The Wildcats changed that very quickly. Starting at the 11:28 mark with the score 17-16 in favor of the Sooners, the Wildcats went on a 26-4 run that stretched the lead out to 39-26.
Villanova didn't stop there. After going back and forth for the beginning of the second half, the Wildcats left their mark, and Oklahoma fell ice cold.
The Sooners went scoreless for six minutes, and Villanova took full advantage. They scored 25 straight points, and the resulting 79-41 lead was just too much to overcome. The Wildcats offense went hot at the right time, sealing the win with another 'perfect game' after their similar national championship win 31 years ago.
Buddy Hield Shut Down
Heading into this game, Buddy Hield was the hottest player in the nation. He had scored 37 points in their Elite Eight against the Oregon Ducks, and also dropped 36 in the Round of 32 against the VCU Rams.
Villanova had to expect that Hield would try to take over the game early and quickly, and that Oklahoma would look for Hield to guide their offense to victory. He has been arguably the greatest player in college basketball this year, battling with Michigan State's Denzel Valentine.
However, Villanova planned for Hield perfectly, and the superstar was not a huge factor in the game. Hield couldn't even reach double digits, scoring just nine points. He was locked down most of the game by Jenkins, Bridges, Hart, and Arcidiacono.
After connecting with his first trey, Hield missed his next three shots from deep. He finished 4-12 overall from the field, and also had four turnovers. Hield simply looked out of rhythm all night long, and the Wildcats deserve all credit due.
Oklahoma will now enter the summer after a terrific season. Hield will no longer be with them, and the roster could take a huge hit as a result of that alone. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back next season.
Villanova will look to continue their hot hand to lead them to a national championship. They have not been victorious since 1985, and this is their first appearance since that year. If they played the way they played today, they will surely be determined to bring the trophy back to campus.