The Villanova Wildcats will put their 3-0 record on the line when they face off against the UC Riverside Highlanders in the opening round of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, CA. While Vilanova comes in sporting a perfect record so far, the Highlanders come in reeling with an 0-2 record - and the knowledge that they haven't really shown much so far this season.
Having not hit the 50-point mark in either of their losses this season to UTEP and Youngstown St., they'll have a tough matchup ahead of them in 'Nova - with perhaps the only positive heading into the game is that this game will be played closer to their campus than Villnova's.
After The Jump we'll take a closer look at what UCR has to offer.
Senior guard Phil Martin appears to be the unquestioned main threat in the UCR team, as he's averaged 14.7 ppg to start the season to go along with 8.0 rpg in the first couple of games. However, the offensive capabilities seem to begin and end with Martin, as no other player is averaging double-digit points (and the ugly fact that the team hasn't gotten to 50 points yet in a game). James Bell will likely get the assignment on Martin with Dominic Cheek aiding as well.
After Martin, there is also senior guard Kareem Nitoto, who's averaged 9.0 ppg so far. Maalik Wayns will likely be matched up against the smaller Nitoto for most of the night. Martin and Nitoto are both averaging over 35 minutes per game, while no other member of the team is averaging 25 mpg. Senior Harrison Gaines appears the next most capable guard off the bench.
In the frontcourt, BJ Shearry is is the main threat, but at just 6'7" he will have his hands full with a much bigger Villanova frontcourt that will include matchups against Mouphtaou Yarou, Maurice Sutton and freshman Markus Kennedy. Elliot Berry will provide some support off the bench for the Highlanders.
It would be a major shock (and we've seen our fair share so far this year so UCR should not be underestimated) if Villanova were to lose this opening round game against a much inferior side. This will be a good litmus test on Villanova's ability to deal with a lesser foe, as they struggled mightily to put Delaware away last time despite never being seriously threatened.
UC-RIVERSIDE PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
There are no injuries to report for either team.