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Foul play? A look at Villanova’s problem

The one reason pointed out by so many people as to why Villanova has lost four of its last seven games has been the problem with fouls. After being quiet about it for weeks, Jay Wright publicly voiced his displeasures with the officials after the loss to Syracuse, saying that he has watched tape of the last six or seven games, and the fouling is not his team’s fault. What better way to analyze this than to compare his team’s last seven games in the Big East with its first nine:

First nine games:

  • Record: 9-0
  • Average fouls: 21.6 for, 22.9 against
  • Average free throws: 27.2 for, 26.7 against
  • More fouls than opponent: 4 games (tie against Louisville)
  • Less fouls than opponent: 4 games
  • More free throws than opponent: 4 games
  • Less free throws than opponent: 5 games
  • 10 or more fouls than opponent: 0 games
  • 10 or less free throws than opponent: 0 games
  • 25 or more fouls: 2 games

Last seven games:

  • Record: 3-4
  • Average fouls: 26.1 for, 19.1 against
  • Average free throws: 20.9 for, 35 against
  • More fouls than opponent: 5 games
  • Less fouls than opponent: 2 games
  • More free throws than opponent: 0 games
  • Less free throws than opponent: 6 games (tie against USF)
  • 10 or more fouls than opponent: 3 games
  • 10 or less free throws than opponent: 5 games
  • 25 or more fouls: 4

Through the first nine games of Big East play the fouls and free throws were relatively even for Villanova. Over the last seven games, those numbers have jumped decidedly in its opponents favor. Villanova averages seven more fouls than its opponent and is shooting 14.1 less free throws per game.

Villanova has shot 10 more free throws than its opponent in just one game (Seton Hall). It has had that same feat done to them five of the last seven games.

The Wildcats fouls a lot, but before the Georgetown game they lost, they didn’t. It’s hard to put a finger on why this is happening. Is it having a deep bench? Is it the officiating? It is playing careless?

If it’s the officiating, two things will show this. The first is to see if there’s any immediate response to Wright’s comments in the Cincinnati game tomorrow. The second will be how often the team fouls in the NCAA tournament, when there are new sets of refs.

The fact is that without the problem corrected, Villanova’s days in March are numbered.

– David Cassilo

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