Steve Lappas: Lack Of Inside Threat Could Hurt Villanova’s Chance At Repeat

There hasn’t been a repeat national champion in men’s college basketball since 2006-07, when Florida went back-to-back under Billy Donovan.

Well, that could change this year.

No. 2 Villanova (26-2) has been almost untouchable this season. The Wildcats lost at Butler and at Marquette in January. Aside from those two hiccups, they’ve been dominant.

Does Villanova have what it takes to repeat?

“Well, first of all, they’ve had an unbelievable season again,” CBS Sports college basketball analyst Steve Lappas told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “To be sitting here right now as the overall No. 1 seed just tells you what kind of a year they’ve had. Now that being said, I think they miss Daniel Ochefu big time. They don’t really have a presence in the lane, and I think the problem is going to come not with a lot of teams, but with an Oregon, a UCLA, an Arizona, a North Carolina, Louisville. Those five teams in particular have not only size, but quality size, to go with very good perimeter players – point guards and wings.”

 

Villanova has four players averaging double figures: Josh Hart, who is averaging a team-high 18.8 points per game, Jalen Brunson (14.6), Kris Jenkins (13.3) and Mikal Bridges (10.8). Donte DiVincenzo (7.9) and Eric Paschall (6.6), meanwhile, have played supporting roles.

“They’ve been playing six guys,” Lappas said. “What they did to Seton Hall the other day in a big game on the road at Seton Hall, 17,000 people at the game – and (they) totally dismantled them with six guys. So it is incredible the season that they’re having. I just feel that their inside depth – their biggest guy right now is 6-7. (Darryl) Reynolds will be back at some point, but he is basically a guy who’s just a rebounder for the most part (and) doesn’t score. I think it’s going to catch up to them. But what a year. They definitely have a chance. I’m not going to say they don’t have a chance, but I think they’ll have trouble with those five teams in particular.”

It’s also much harder to repeat in men’s college basketball than in just about any other sport. There’s a large amount of turnover – due to the NBA and graduation – and teams have no margin for error.

“It’s obviously really hard to repeat,” Lappas said. “If you get picked off by one team one night, if have a bad night in one of those six (games), you’re going home. Repeating is hard in any sport at any level of anything, but to do it at this level in college, it’s even rougher because you lose guys. I don’t think they miss, even though he was great, (Ryan) Arcidiacono. He was terrific, but Jalen Brunson is an upgrade. That’s how good Jalen Brunson has been this year. But as far as Ochefu goes and having a big guy in the lane that can play defense and even score for you from the block at the end of the game, they don’t have that and I think they’re going to miss that.”

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