No.2 Villanova to Face No.7 Ohio State Sunday


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

The Wildcats will face Ohio State on Saturday after defeating Delaware, 80-60.

Colin Beazley, Co-Editor-in-Chief

PITTSBURGH 一 After defeating No.15 Delaware 80-60 on Friday afternoon, Villanova will face No.7 Ohio State on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. The Buckeyes advanced to the second round courtesy of a 54-41 win over No.10 Loyola-Chicago in Friday’s early game.

Villanova cruised to the win over Delaware behind a sharpshooting performance from the entire team. The team shot 50.9% from the field in the game, 46.4% from beyond the arc, and five Wildcats scored in double digits. The Wildcats ended the first half on a 15-2 run, taking a lead that the Blue Hens were never able to challenge. Junior guard Justin Moore led all scorers with 21 points, while graduate forward Jermaine Samuels had 15 points as well.

While the Wildcats put on an offensive clinic to win, the Buckeyes won behind stout defense in a game where neither team shot the ball well. Ohio State held the Ramblers to 28.6% shooting, forcing 14 turnovers. Star forward EJ Liddell had a double-double in the win, with 16 points and 10 rebounds, although eight of his points came on free throws. Freshman guard Malaki Branham was the only other Ohio State player in double digits, scoring 14.

The win was Ohio State’s 20th of the year, improving to 20-11. The Buckeyes finished in sixth in the Big Ten with a 12-8 conference record. Ohio State beat then-top ranked Duke early in the season and Illinois and Wisconsin in conference play, but ended the season by losing four of its final five games. The Buckeyes lost their first game of the Big Ten tournament, falling 71-68 to Penn State in the second round. 

Villanova head coach Jay Wright is 1-1 in his career against Ohio State. The Wildcats last faced the Buckeyes in 2019, when Ohio State cruised to a 76-51 victory in Columbus. The leaders in 2019 were the same players who will lead Villanova into the matchup Sunday, as Samuels scored 14 points in the loss, Gillespie scored 10 and Moore was held to just six points.

“We did play them two years ago, and they beat us pretty good,” Gillespie said. “So we know their style of play, and the coaches are going to do a good job of putting the scouting report together for us, and we’ll start to go over that tomorrow.”

The Wildcats have faced the Buckeyes once in the NCAA Tournament, losing 53-36 in the regional final in 1939.

The tipoff time of Sunday’s matchup in Pittsburgh is yet to be determined. The winner of Sunday’s matchup will earn a trip to the Sweet 16 in San Antonio, where they will face the winner of No.3 Tennessee and No.11 Michigan.