Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/Villanova

Mar 18, 2022, 3:33 PM
BYU - Villanova - NCAA Tournament - Shaylee Gonzales...
BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales goes through practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan in preparation for the Villanova Wildcats. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU takes on Villanova in the first round of the 2022 Women’s NCAA Tournament. The Cougars will be the team in the home white uniforms as they enter the game as a 6-seed in the Wichita Region, while Villanova is an 11-seed.

It’s the first meeting between these two programs since a neutral court contest in 1995. As a result, there’s little to no familiarity between the two programs, but they do play similar styles of the motion offense.

BYU is looking to advance to the Round of 32 for the second consecutive year. Villanova last appeared in the Round of 32 in 2018, their last appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Tip-off for BYU vs Villanova is Saturday at 11 a.m. (MT) on ESPNEWS. Here are my three storylines to watch that could play a role in coming up with a March Madness victory.

#1 Physical play

During the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, BYU’s talented frontcourt was neutralized because of the physical play from the opposition. In the title game against Gonzaga, the Zags bigs set the tone from the opening tip and BYU’s high-powered offense never could find their footing.

BYU’s frontcourt with All-WCC first-teamer Lauren Gustin and 6-foot-7 Sara Hamson off the bench have to set the tone in the paint. Gustin is one of the most physical players out west in women’s hoops averaging 12.6 boards per game. But did Portland and Gonzaga give a blueprint on keeping her in check?

Villanova doesn’t have anyone over 6-foot-1 in their starting lineup, but their top three rebounders are all starters, led by Big East Player of the Year Maddy Siegrist with 9.5 rebounds per game.

#2 Stars shine brightest in March

BYU head coach Jeff Judkins noted in his pregame press conference on Friday that it will take a complete team effort for his team to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. But the stars of a team have to shine brightest when March Madness arrives.

There will be a lot of star power in the BYU/Villanova matchup. This matchup will feature two conference players of the year in Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist and from BYU, the WCC Player of the Year Shaylee Gonzales.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BYU Women’s Basketball (@byuwbb)

Gonzales is the ultimate stat-stuffer who makes her teammates better. Her three-point shooting has gone down this season, dipping to 22.3%. But she’s still averaging 18.7 points, 4.3 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Alongside Gonzales in the backcourt is Paisley Harding. Harding is entering her final March Madness appearance. Between them and Gustin, when BYU’s “Big 3” all reaches double-figures in scoring, as they did many times this year, BYU is tough to beat.

Villanova’s Siegrist is a bucket getter with nine games of 30-plus points or more, including a 42-point performance against Marquette on February 11. The Wildcats haven’t won a tournament game in four years. Siegrist will need to have a monster game if Villanova is going to pull off the upset.

#3 Which team makes the best in-game adjustments

Saturday afternoon will be Jeff Judkins’ 18th game as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament. On the opposing bench, Denise Dillon will be coaching her second game in March Madness, the first at her alma mater Villanova.

In-game adjustments will be critical for programs that have little to no familiarity with one another. Entering the Saturday matinee matchup, the edge would likely go to Judkins, who has won seven games as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament, including a pair of victories in BYU’s last two NCAA appearances.

Both teams run similar styles of offenses, so making the necessary adjustments to have success on the defensive end will be a storyline to watch.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars

BYU Football, Jay Hill, Defensive Coordinator...
Mitch Harper

BYU Continues To Install Jay Hill’s ‘Complicated’ Defense During Spring

BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill is putting together one of the nation's toughest defensive schemes.
1 day ago
Shane Reese, BYU, Big 12...
Mitch Harper

What New BYU President Shane Reese Means For Cougar Sports

BYU has hired a new president. What does it mean for BYU sports?
1 day ago
Braeden Moore, BYU Basketball, Transfer Portal...
Mitch Harper

BYU Freshman Braeden Moore Enters NCAA Transfer Portal

BYU's first scholarship player to enter the Transfer Portal during the 2023 cycle.
4 days ago
BYU Women's Basketball | Amber Whiting...
Mitch Harper

BYU Women’s Season Comes To Close With WNIT Loss To Rice

The first year of the Amber Whiting era is in the books.
5 days ago
BYU, Utah State, Food Bank...
Mitch Harper

BYU, Utah State Football Teams Made Large Donation To Utah Food Bank

Members of the BYU and Utah State football teams joined forces at the Utah Food Bank.
5 days ago
Kyle Ireland

Saints RB Jamaal Williams ‘Can’t Wait To Mess’ With Former BYU Teammate Taysom Hill

Former BYU and current Saints RB Jamaal Williams said that he "can't wait to mess" with his former college and new NFL teammate Taysom Hill.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/Villanova