If you’ve seen “Dark” on Netflix then you’re familiar with the 33-year cycle. If you’re not, the basic synopsis is that a solar year is actually 365.25 days in length, not a solid 365 days. Because of that, every 33 years the luni-solar cycle is completed bringing the lunar months back in sync with the solar seasons.
In the show (and this isn’t a spoiler), history repeats itself in some form every 33 years in part because of this phenomenon. At least I think that’s the case. It was very hard to follow.
Thirty-three years ago, Villanova stunned heavily favored Georgetown to capture the first national title in program history. On Monday night, it will be a heavily favored Wildcats team this time that attempts to cut down the nets repeat that history from 1985.
With all due respect to the 33-year cycle, it’s Villanova’s second national championship run that bears an eerie resemblance to what we’ve seen from Jay Wright’s team over the past month.
The 2015-16 Wildcats rolled to the national title with the most statistically impressive performance in the modern history of the NCAA tournament. Two years later, ‘Nova has a chance to become the most efficient offensive team since Ken Pomeroy began tracking the statistic in 2002.
The similarities don’t stop there. Let’s take it round by round.
The biggest difference between 2016 and 2018 is that Villanova was a No. 2 seed two years ago, and a top seed currently. No matter, the box scores from two opening round wins are nearly identical.
In 2016, ‘Nova led 40-26 at the half, shot 57.9 percent from the field, hit 13 of 28 three-point attempts, and took down UNC Asheville, 86-56.
In 2018, the Wildcats led 44-23 at the half, shot 59.6 percent from the field, made 14 of 27 three-point attempts, and took down Radford, 87-61.
A more impressive but equally resounding beatdown came in round two of both years.
In 2016, Villanova blitzed seventh-seeded Iowa, 87-68 in a game that was never really in doubt. This year, the Wildcats had no trouble with Collin Sexton and ninth-seeded Alabama, cruising to an 81-58 triumph.
The onslaught continued in the Sweet 16, where Villanova dispatched of two very well thought of opponents thanks to outrageous offensive efforts.
Two years ago, Ryan Arcidiacono and company broke open a tight game against third-seeded Miami in the second half. They hit 18 free-throws, 10 threes and scored 49 second half points on their way to a 92-69 win.
It was also a close game at the break for this year’s Wildcats, which led 5-seed West Virginia just 44-42 at intermission. Villanova then exploded for 46 second half points, made 13 threes and 23 free-throws in a 90-78 victory.
Here’s where things get downright creepy. In both years, it was in this round that Villanova’s offense finally looked mortal and where the Wildcats were the most susceptible to being picked off.
Two years ago, ‘Nova made a tournament low four three-pointers and scored a tournament low 64 points in a regional final win over Kansas that was hard to watch at times. Last weekend, the Wildcats made a tournament low four three-pointers and scored a tournament low 71 points in a rock fight win over Texas Tech.
Villanova made history in 2016 with a 95-51 win over Oklahoma that set a new record for margin of victory in a national semifinal. On Saturday, the Wildcats made history again in a Final Four blowout, setting a new national semifinal record for made three-pointers with 18. They broke the old record (13) less than two minutes into the second half.
Villanova’s total number of points through five NCAA tournament games in 2016: 424.
Villanova’s total number of points through five NCAA tournament games in 2018: 424.
National Championship Game
You never want to guarantee that a national title game is going to be a classic, but if there were ever a year to do just that ...
Two-year cycle. Somebody look into this.