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Can Villanova Shut Down UNC's Perimeter Game?

A lot of UNC-Villanova previews have focused on the Wildcats' perimeter defense, often in terms like this:


During the tournament, the Wildcats have been switching on every screen and have held outstanding shooters to near-season lows, including Jrue Holiday to 1-for-6, Gerald Henderson to 1-for-14, Jon Scheyer to 3-for-18, and Levance Fields to 2-for-8.

The run-and-gun offense may be a lot of fun for fans to watch, but it's defense that's going to get 'Nova to the championship.


And it's true, Villanova's been great at disrupting opposing guards diring the tournament, and not half-bad over the season, holding opponents to 33.2% from behind the arc. As someone who has many memories of Final Four trips ruined by oor perimeter shooting (c.f. 1995, 1997, 1998...), I have to wonder, are Lawson, Ellington, Green doomed to the same fate?

I don't think so, for a couple of reasons. One, the fact that it's Lawson, Ellington, and Green. Three solid shoots are tough to guard on the outside, and for all of Nova's defensive prowess listed above, Sam Young went 3-7 for Pitt and Nikola Dragovic 3-6 for UCLA. Villanova has trouble with long guard/forward types, a profile Danny Green fits to a T. If he keeps his hot hand from the weekend, he'll be very hard to stop.

Secondly, UNC typically generates three point opportunities differently from Pitt and Duke. Instead of the perimeter screen (think every play J.J. Redick ran for four years) Carolina prefers to kick it outside from a big man. If you first require the defense to collapse on Hansbrough, Thompson, or a driving Ty Lawson, it's much tougher for them to defend the subsequent three point attempt. Villanova is built like Duke, and in two games against the Blue Devils UNC was 6-12 and 6-15 from long distance.

My third reservation is the curious fact that this defense for the Wildcats is a recent thing. I mentioned earlier that they held their opponents to a respectable 33.2% shooting, but what I didn't throw out is that Villanova is 339th in three point attempts per field goal attempts against - no major school in the country had more threes launched against them. So either the entire Big East was very, very confused, or most folks playing Villanova thought the long ball had a decent chance of working. Only twice did an opponent launch less than 14 threes, while UNC has taken that many shots or fewer a good dozen times (All wins.)  This isn't the type of team Villanova sees very often, and they'll have a much harder time than they're expecting.