Following their death by 3-pointer experience against Saint Louis the Villanova Wildcats will take the court in their final game of the 76 Classic, where they will compete for 3rd place honors against the Santa Clara Broncos. Santa Clara followed the same path as 'Nova, winning their opening round game against New Mexico in overtime before falling to Oklahoma 85-73 in the semi-finals.
Now 3-2 on the season, the Broncos will look to pick up their second solid win of the tournament by taking out a young Villanova team.
After The Jump we'll take a closer look at Santa Clara.
Members of the West Coast Conference along with perennial Cinderella pick Gonzaga and the Jimmer's, Santa Clara enjoyed playing the spoiler in a huge upset of New Mexico on Thursday night. They couldn't repeat the feat against Oklahoma to get to the finals, but they'd love to do it once more and send Wildcat fans home unhappy.
It's a 3-headed monster for the Broncos with Evan Roquemore and Kevin Foster leading the way in scoring. Niyi Harrison is not far behind either, also averaging double figures.
So far this season Roquemore has been lights out from both the foul line (he hasn't missed yet this season and is getting there often) and from beyond the arc. He entered the Oklahoma game shooting 50% from downtown and and then went 7-11 from long range against the Sooners. Brandon Clark is another ace from behind the arc, as he's also shooting over 50% on the season. Hopefully Villanova learned a thing or two about the importance of 3-point defense against Saint Louis, or it could be another long night.
Foster is another guard who's going to put up a decent amount of shots, both inside and outside the arc. While not as proficient as his backcourt mate in shooting the long ball, he still likes to jack 'em up (3-10 against Oklahoma).
At forward Harrison is much more inclined to do his work in the paint. He's a fair sized athlete at 6'8" and 225 pounds. With Yarou in foul trouble for much of the game vs. Saint Louis, he didn't have the impact he wanted. If he's on the court, expect him to help neutralize the presence of Harrison.
The one noticeably bad area of the Broncos is their ball protection. They're averaging double-digit turnovers this season, which is the exact opposite of what Villanova faced on Friday afternoon. Villanova loves to fast break when they're able to, so if Santa Clara gets careless with the rock, Wayns and Co. should be off the races a lot.
Plan A on defense has to be to stop Roquemore. While his 27 points and 10 assists weren't enough against Oklahoma, there's no reason to invite him to have the same type of performance again. Maalik Wayns did a great job negating Kwamain Harrison and he'll have to do it again tonight on Roquemore, though he'll likely get help from James Bell and Dominic Cheek against the 6'3" guard. If they slow him down, expect Villanova to walk away winners.
SANTA CLARA PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
SANTA CLARA BENCH
Prediction: Villanova wins 78-68
The game airs on ESPNU at 6:30 pm ET. We'll have our game thread up at 6. See you there!