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2016 NCAA Tournament: Villanova vs. UNC-Asheville Preview

We reached out to UNC-Asheville's student newspaper, The Blue Banner, for a better look at what to expect from the Bulldogs.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament continues this afternoon, and the 2-seed Villanova Wildcats will draw the 15-seed UNC-Asheville Bulldogs.

We've been talking to fellow SB Nation blogs for our previews this week to get a better look at the Big East team's opponent, however, UNC-Asheville doesn't have an SB Nation blog. So, we reached out to Phillip Carwane of their student newspaper The Blue Banner.

Below is what Phillip had to say about the Bulldogs.

BECB: Dwayne Sutton was a player who really impressed me in the Big South tournament, and he netted the tournament MVP. I noticed he's second in the team in scoring and leads the team in rebounding as a guard, not dissimilar to Villanova's Josh Hart. Is it fair to say Sutton is the Bulldogs' most important player?

Phillip Carwane: Dwayne Sutton is one of UNCA's talented guards. Much like Villanova, the Bulldogs depend on their guards to score as well as rebound, but in that regard, Sutton is not unique. UNCA has five players averaging double-digit point production for the season, three of which are guards; freshman Dwayne Sutton, freshman Dylan Smith and sophomore Kevin Vannatta.

BECB: Most people know of Asheville from the 2012 NCAA Tournament when they gave Syracuse a game as a 16-seed. How does this year's team compare to that one?

PC: The NCAA Tournament is all about the matchups and this UNCA team is actually quite similar to Villanova in style of play.

BECB: Asheville only has one player over 6'6", the very sparingly used John Cannon. Villanova has four such players. Do the Bulldogs have any hope of slowing down the Wildcats inside?

PC: With the exception of Daniel Ochefu, Villanova's height is used similarly to several of UNCA's opponents. In games against Georgetown, both teams used superior athleticism to defeat the Hoyas, despite a size disadvantage. Ochefu, and his ankle, could be an X-factor for the Wildcats.

BECB: Conversely, Asheville's one of the best teams in the country at defending three-pointers. Is that due more to weak competition, or are the guards that tenacious on the perimeter on the defensive side of the ball?

PC: UNCA has the classic small team mentality, earn the win on the defensive side of the ball. While other teams put a small lineup in when they need a steal or better ball handling, UNCA has been working on multiple defenses and pressure throughout the season.

BECB: We've seen 2/15 upsets in the past. What does Asheville have to do to pull out an upset here?

PC: UNCA is a young team and will need to be ready for the spotlight of the tournament. If the Bulldogs play their game, it will come down to Villanova's ability to make contested shots. The Wildcats field goal percentage could be the most telling stat.


Thank you to Phillip for taking the time to answer our questions. The Blue Banner's website can be found HERE.