3 Things Villanova Has To Do To Make Up For Justin Moore Loss

The reality of March Madness is not very different from other sporting events in a few obvious ways. One is that a big injury can change everything. Villanova faces an uphill battle against Kansas in the first national semifinal at the Final Four after starting guard Justin Moore, a 15-point-per-game scorer who also averaged five rebounds per contest, suffered an injury in the final minute of Villanova’s Elite 8 win over Houston a week ago. Now the landscape changes for Villanova, and coach Jay Wright has to get certain things from his team against Kansas.

Big Game From Collin Gillespie

The heart and soul of the Wildcats is Gillespie, who missed the NCAA Tournament last year and had to watch in street clothes as Villanova put up a fight but was ultimately undermanned and overwhelmed against Baylor, the team which eventually won the 2021 national championship. Gillespie wanted to come back to this Villanova team for another run at the national title. He signed up for this situation and this challenge. Justin Moore won’t be in the backcourt alongside him, but that will motivate Gillespie even more. He knows he has to play his best, and an elite player uses this kind of situation as fuel for his competitive fire. If Gillespie, who has not been fully healthy in recent weeks but has gotten a full week of rest this past week, can play anything close to 100 percent and can give Jay Wright a strong performance, Villanova will instantly feel a lot better about its chances and will be able to push Kansas for 40 full minutes in the first national semifinal on Saturday in New Orleans.

Capable Caleb

The player who will get most of the minutes in place of Moore is Caleb Daniels, a senior. He hasn’t been able to get more minutes because Moore was locking down the guard spot and averaging 34.6 minutes per game. Moore played over 34 minutes in each of Villanova’s last two wins against Michigan and then Houston. Daniels would be getting a lot more playing time on other teams, but now is his big chance to contribute to his team and lift his teammates. Daniels is not a mediocre player, either; he simply isn’t as good as Moore. Those are two different things. Daniels does average 10 points and four rebounds per game in a bench role. Now that he will start for Villanova and get more minutes, he can make a bigger impact. Realistically, if Daniels plays great defense and doesn’t turn the ball over, that would be a significant positive contribution to the Wildcats against Kansas.

Slower Pace, Lower Score

The Wildcats, by losing Moore’s 15 points per game, probably can’t get into a shootout with a deeper, more explosive Kansas team. Villanova needs to shorten this game, reducing the overall number of possessions, slowing the pace, and playing this game in the high 50s or low 60s. If Kansas plays this game in the high 70s, Villanova will not be able to keep up without Moore. Fewer possessions give VU a path to victory.

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