Villanova (11-5, 2-1) will welcome Pittsburgh (13-4, 1-3) to the Pavilion Wednesday night at 7 PM. Here are a few things Villanova will have to do to win this basketball game.
Win the Front Court Battle
Villanova's front court includes Senior Mouphtaou Yarou, Freshman Daniel Ochefu and Sophomore Jayvaughn Pinkston. Ochefu has gotten the start in the last 2 Big East games and his presence has really helped Yarou get more comfortable. Yarou has had a double-double in his last 2 games and has been able to face the basket and knock down the 12-15 foot jumper with Ochefu playing more under the basket. Jayvaughn Pinkston is Villanova's leading scorer at 13.3 points a game and is a mismatch problem for all teams. He can drive to the basket and takes it to the rim relentlessly. Pinkston and Coach Jay Wright agreed to have him come off the bench to provide instant offense. He has been very successful doing just that. However, in my opinion, (and many other Villanova fans), he needs more minutes than what he has been receiving. He is Villanova's best offensive player and he needs to be on the court in order to do damage. Pittsburgh has a solid Front court of their own, including freshman 7-footer Steven Adams and Junior Talib Zanna. Adams is averaging 23 minutes a game while scoring roughly 7 points and grabbing 6 rebounds per contest. Zanna is leading the Panthers in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Adams is a very good defender. He controls the paint with his long arms and 7-foot frame.
Dominate the Glass
Pittsburgh ranks 206th in the nation averaging 34.6 rebound per game, while Villanova ranks 68th averaging 38.3 rebounds per game. Villanova has out-rebounded its opponents in their last 3 games, including winning the rebounding margin (+9.3) in those games which were all against Big East opponents. Villanova will look to take advantage of their size down low to out-rebound Pittsburgh.
Take Care of the Basketball
Villanova has turned the ball over way too much this season. They are averaging 15.7 turnovers per game, including 16 in the loss to Syracuse last weekend. They do not take care of the basketball, and as a result, it has cost them some ball games his year. To defeat Pittsburgh, Villanova has to learn from past mistakes and be more careful with the ball. To put turnovers in perspective, Pittsburgh is 2nd in the nation (1st in the Big East) at 9.2 turnovers per game, (+6.5 vs Nova), while Villanova is tied for last in the Big East with Seton Hall at 15.7 turnovers per contest.
Villanova wins this Big East matchup 67-61