PITTSBURGH — Mikal Bridges hit five 3s on his way to scoring 23 points and No. 1 seed Villanova cruised to an 81-58 win over ninth-seeded Alabama in its NCAA Tournament – March Madness – second-round game on Saturday.
“We sometimes get away with some out-of-control shots, but we know that we don’t really care about offense,” Bridges said.
Donte DiVincenzo connected on five 3-pointers and added 18 points and five assists off the bench for the Wildcats (32-4), who are in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time since winning the national championship in 2016.
Jalen Brunson ended with 12 points and Omari Spellman grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for Villanova, which is now the new favorite to win the national title, following the shocking first-round exit of No. 1 overall seed Virginia, which suffered the historic 20-point loss to 16th-seeded UMBC on Friday night.
“There’s a youthful exuberance with this team that is exciting me,” said Wildcats head coach Jay Wright, who is taking this program to its sixth Sweet 16 under his guidance.
“My good vibes are coming from how this team’s playing, how unselfishly they play,” he added.
DiVincenzo said: “We’re a 1 seed so it was more attention for us.”
He added: “We just had to withstand that first initial hit, and then once we got comfortable out there with each other, we started defending at a higher rate.
“I just think we wore down their men.”
Collin Sexton paced Alabama with 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting, but none of his team-mates managed to score in double figures.
The Crimson Tide (20-16), who shot 4 for 16 from 3-pointers in the game, trailed 32-27 at the break and were outscored 49-31 after halftime.
Villanova returns to the court on Friday in Boston where it will play the winner of the Marshall versus West Virginia second round clash.