Commentary

Villanova prevails in marquee match-up

Updated: March 21, 2009, 8:47 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When the brackets came out on Selection Sunday, the match-up of Villanova-UCLA stood out as one with exciting potential.

My friends, it turned out to be blowout city as Jay Wright's Villanova squad put on a clinic.

This game was over in the first half as the Wildcats took charge. It was pretty clear that the jitters of the first game, when Villanova trailed American University by double figures in the second half, were all gone. This looked like a vintage Wildcats team, one that played so well in the Big East this season.

Villanova was excellent in transition, finding the open man, making passes to get good looks at the basket. The offense put up more points on UCLA than any other Bruins opponent this season.

It was a Wildcats team with great balance. Six players scored in double figures, led by Dante Cunningham with 18. Reggie Redding, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Scottie Reynolds and Dwyane Anderson all but up double digits as Villanova made it look easy.

Ben Howland described this as a true road game. It turned out to be an M&M'er, a total mismatch as the Philadelphia fans had to be thrilled with this outstanding performance.

For UCLA, a team looking to make a fourth straight trip to the Final Four, it was a disappointing way to end the season. The Bruins, 19-4 at one point during the campaign, closed 7-5 in its final 12 outings.

Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya closed their UCLA careers with a 20-point setback. Overall, these guys were winners throughout, proudly donning those Bruin jerseys and making the fans in Westwood proud. They were key reasons that Howland has put the UCLA tradition back in a prominent position on the college basketball landscape. This trio deserves a salute for its outstanding effort over the years. I truly enjoyed watching them.

Let's remember that the Bruins' run at a fourth straight Final Four appearance was hampered with the loss of Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard M'bah Moute to the NBA ranks. Imagine if Howland had those guys on his roster ... they would have been numero uno this season, baby!

Villanova marches on to the Sweet 16, a place where it lost to eventual national champion Kansas a year ago. If Wright's team plays the way it did on Saturday, watch out. This experienced club has the potential to do some serious damage the rest of March Madness.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.