Stephen Vilardo’s Arizona-Houston Sweet 16 Stat Preview

Houston and Arizona rank second and third nationally in scoring margin on the season

Posted on March 24, 2022

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

Arizona took care of business against Wright State in their Tournament opener and then got a scare from the ninth-seeded Horned Frogs of TCU to get to their first Sweet-16 since 2017.

Another Texas team awaits the Wildcats tonight in San Antonio with Houston making the 197-mile trek west on I-10 to the AT&T Center. 

Arizona got Kerr Kriisa back for the TCU game after a three-game absence due to an ankle injury. Some rust was evident as he was 1-10 from the field, with all 10 attempts coming from behind the three-point line.

His presence was clearly felt, however, as Arizona was +24 during the 27 minutes he played. That was the highest +/- rating of any player in the game—by 13 points. Pelle Larsson was +11. 

The Wildcats will need Kriisa and all of their ball handlers at their best against a Houston team that forces a turnover on 21.2 percent of possessions, the 29th most in the nation.

The Cougars forced an Illinois turnover on 26.2 percent of possessions the last time out, and are getting a steal on 12.1 percent of possessions, 17th nationally.

Bennedict Mathurin scored 11 of Arizona’s final 15 points in the TCU win and ended the game with a team-high 30 points. Over his last three games, Mathurin has averaged 25.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.

Against TCU, Mathurin and Koloko combined for 58 points, 20 rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots, and two steals. 58 points for the two of them accounted for 68.2 percent of Arizona’s total.

The two also combined to score the final 15 points of the game for the Wildcats, shooting 62.5 percent from the field against the Horned Frogs. Their teammates combined to shoot 30.6 percent. 

Houston (16.8) and Arizona (16.7) are second and third nationally in scoring margin on the season. 

Here are my predictions for the South Region Sweet-16:

• Arizona 78, Houston 73

• Villanova 64, Michigan 61

Capsules For South Regional

San Antonio, Texas | AT&T Center 
TBS (Brian Anderson, Jim Jackson & Allie LaForce)
Thursday Game One: Michigan vs Villanova 4:29 pm (PT)
Game Two: Houston vs Arizona 6:59 PM (PT)

Arizona Wildcats (33-3)
1-seed South Region

19th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 36

First Sweet-16 appearance since 2017

Tournament Trail:

(16) Wright State 87-70

(9) TCU 85-80 (OT)

First Meeting with Houston in the NCAA Tournament

Last Meeting with Houston: 96-90 (OT) W in Tucson 1/24/09

Series against the Field

Houston (5-Seed): Arizona leads 6-5 all-time

Villanova (2-Seed): Tied 2-2

Michigan (11-Seed): Arizona leads 8-2 all-time

• Tommy Lloyd’s 33 wins this season are one shy of Bill Guthridge in 1997-98 (UNC) for the most by a first-time head coach in NCAA history

• Against Wright State, Christian Koloko became the first player in NCAA Tournament history with at least 17 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 blocked shots in a single game

• Christian Koloko is averaging 22.5 points, 12.5 rebounds on 82.6 percent from the floor in the NCAA Tournament.

• As a No. 1 seed, Arizona is 18-6 all-time and 3-0 vs. the No. 5 seed.

• Arizona is eighth in the country with a non-blocked two-point FT percentage of 62.0 percent.

• Arizona’s 15.8 made FTs per game are the 11th-most in the nation.

• The Wildcats assist rate of 65.5 percent is the second-best in the nation.

• Christian Koloko is 13th in the nation with 4.4 blocked shots per 40 minutes.

• Christain Koloko is blocking .99 shots per foul committed. During the NCAA Tournament, he is blocking 2.0 per foul committed. 

Houston Cougars (31-5)
5-seed South Region

13th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 23

Third Consecutive Sweet-16 appearance

Tournament Trail:

(12) UAB 82-68

(4) Illinois 68-53

First Meeting with Arizona in the NCAA Tournament

Last Meeting with Arizona: 96-90 (OT) L in Tucson 1/24/09

Series against the Field

Arizona (1-Seed): Arizona leads 6-5 all-time

Villanova (2-Seed): Tied 3-3

Michigan (11-Seed): Michigan leads 2-1 all-time

• Houston is 1-3 all-time against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

• Jamal Shead is eighth in the nation with 5.9 assists per game and ninth with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.04

• Houston leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 37.5 percent.

• Houston is 3-1 vs ranked teams this season.

• The Cougars are 3-9 when facing the No. 2 (AP) team all-time, they have lost the last six such games.

• The Cougars’ last win over the No. 2 (AP) team was a 94-81 victory over Louisville during the NCAA Final Four in Albuquerque, N.M., on April 2, 1983.

• Houston is fifth in the nation with a blocked-shot rate of 9.8 percent. They blocked 12.0 percent of the shot attempts by Illinois.

• Houston is getting a steal on 12.1 percent of possessions, 17th in the country.

• The Cougars are getting an average of 8.1 more scoring chances per game than opponents, the most in the nation.

• Josh Carlton is getting 6.0 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes, seventh in the nation.

Villanova Wildcats (28-7)

2-seed South Region

 20th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 40

Second Consecutive Sweet-16 appearance

Tournament Trail:

(15) Delaware 80-60

(7) Ohio State 71-61

2-0 vs Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, most recent 2018 NCAA Title game 

Last Meeting with Michigan: 73-46 Michigan win 11/14/18 in Philadelphia

Series against the Field

Michigan (11-Seed): Villanova leads 3-2 all-time

Arizona (1-Seed): Tied 2-2

Houston (5-Seed): Tied 3-3

• Villanova is 21-3 in their last 24 games.

• The Wildcats have won all seven games played in March, their longest such surge of 2021-22. This is the ninth-straight season in which the ‘Cats have produced a streak of at least six straight wins.

• Villanova has won either the Big East regular season or tournament championship in each of the last nine seasons. 

• The Wildcats are 18-3 (.857) in NCAA Tournament games since 2016.

• Villanova leads the nation in FT shooting at 82.6 percent, Collin Gillespie is shooting 90.2 percent from the FT line, 12th in the nation. 

• Jermaine Samuels Jr. is averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in seven games this March.

• Villanova is 15-2 this season when Caleb Daniels scores in double figures

Michigan Wolverines 19-14

11-seed South Region

18th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 31

Fifth-Consecutive Sweet-16 Appearance

Tournament Trail:

(6) Colorado State 75-63

(3) Tennessee 76-68

0-2 vs Villanova in the NCAA Tournament, most recent 2018 NCAA Title game

Last Meeting with Villanova: 73-46 Michigan win 11/14/18 in Philadelphia

Series against the Field

Villanova (2-Seed): Villanova leads 3-2 all-time

Arizona (1-Seed): Arizona leads 8-2 all-time

Houston (5-Seed): Tied 3-3

• Michigan’s five consecutive Sweet-16 appearances are a Big Ten record. 

• Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 in 1985, Michigan’s streak of five-straight Sweet 16s is tied for the fourth-longest by any school.

• Since 2013, Michigan has advanced to the Elite Eight four times, tied for the most in the country with Duke, Gonzaga, and Kentucky

• Hunter Dickinson has averaged 24.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament.

• Eli Brooks is averaging 19.5 points per game, shooting 51.9 percent from the field over the last two games.

• Juwan Howard leads the Big Ten in NCAA wins since he was hired in 2020. 

Follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenVilardo and his organization @SERCenter.

Visit his website at

—More from Stephen Vilardo—