BUFFALO, New York, Sporting Alert — Defending champion Villanova will start the defense of its national title when March Madness tips off with a full schedule of First Round games on Thursday at KeyBank Center.
The Wildcats (31-3) are seeking to become the first repeat champions since Florida in 2007.
Watch Live Stream: (1) Villanova vs. (16) Mt. St Mary’s March 16 | Buffalo | 7:10 p.m. | CBS
Nova is the No. 1 overall seed at this year’s NCAA Tournament and will begin their title defense against 16th seed Mount St. Mary’s in Buffalo at 7:10 p.m. ET, live on CBS and streaming live online.
“It’s always a reminder that everybody expects you to do it again,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “That’s part of the challenge.
“When people say it’s hard to repeat, that’s part of why it’s hard to repeat, is because you have to deal with those expectations all the time, those constant reminders of last year.”
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Villanova will be trying to extend the undefeated run by No. 1 seeds against No. 16 seeds at the NCAA Tournament, which currently sits at 128-0 all-time.
The Big East regular season and tournament champion enters this matchup on a five-game winning streak and have only lost three times all season.
Mount St. Mary’s, meanwhile, earned its place in the Round of 64 after edging New Orleans 67-66 in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday night.
Josh Hart, a Wooden Award finalist, leads Villanova this season with 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent from 3-pointers.
The Big East Tournament MVP averaged 21 points and 7.3 rebounds across three games in the just concluded conference tournament.
Guard Junior Robinson, the smallest player on any roster in Division I men’s basketball at 5-foot-5, will be one of the Mount St. Mary’s players to keep an eye on during Thursday night’s contest.
Robinson, who is averaging 14.3 points per game, scored a game-high 23 points in the Mountaineers’ (20-15) First Four win over New Orleans.
Elijah Long is averaging 15.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals this term for Mount St. Mary’s.
Villanova starts as massive 26.5 point favourite to beat Mount St. Mary’s, while ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is giving the Wildcats a 99 percent chance to advance to the second round.