After trailing every second of the 2nd half, top-seeded Villanova got a gift. Trevor Lacey threw the ball out of bounds with 36 seconds left, giving the Wildcats the ball down by 2 with a chance to tie or take the lead. On the ensuing possession, miscommunication on a pick-and-roll left Dylan Ennis wide open at the top of the key for a 3 to take the lead, but it wasn't his night. Ennis missed the 3, ending his 0-6 night from deep and 2-12 shooting from the field. N.C. State advances to the Sweet 16 and Villanova goes home in the Round of 32 for the second straight year.
Here are three keys from Villanova's heartbreaking loss:
1. N.C. State bullied Villanova in the paint
N.C. State out-rebounded Villanova 45-32. The Wildcats' Center Daniel Ochefu went 1-7 on the night with just four points. Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston have held their own down low all year, but seemed overmatched tonight. Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman proved to be too much in the paint as they combined for 24 points and 24 rebounds.
2. 'Nova's love for the 3 hurt
All season, Villanova has relied heavily on the 3-point shot, and it has worked. 'Nova has an 8 man rotation where 6 of the 8 are very lethal 3-point shooters, but the reliance on the 3 hurt them in the end. The Wildcats refused to work the ball inside to Pinkston and Ochefu multiple possessions in a row and made just 10 shots inside the arc. Despite a huge game from Darrun Hilliard, shooting 6-10 from beyond the arc, the rest of the team was just 3-18. In the end, the inability to score easy buckets prevented Villanova from putting together a run to rally past N.C. State.
3. When will Villanova succeed in the tournament again?
Since their Final Four run in 2009, Villanova has made the the tournament 4 of the last 5 years. This includes two #2 seeds and a #1 seed this year. Each year they have failed to make it to the Sweet 16 losing to St. Mary's in 2010, Connecticut last year, and now N.C. State. Jay Wright's job is obviously safe, but in order to gain national respect each year, Villanova must prove itself in the tournament. With Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston both graduating, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will have to step up next year if Villanova wants to be a top seed in the tournament again.