Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Providence came back from a halftime deficit to down Villanova two weeks ago. Villanova looks like a changed team. It's time to see if Villanova's resurgence is a mirage or for real.
If you want a true measuring stick of the quality of Villanova’s team, you need to watch Sunday’s game against the Friars of Providence. Over the last three games, the ‘Cats disposed two top five teams at “home” (Wells Fargo Center) and dropped a close contest against a very strong Notre Dame team in South Bend, Indiana. All of this success came off of a sobering loss to Providence a few days before the Louisville game.
It’s no doubt that Villanova appears to be a different team. The defensive intensity is at an all time high, with players diving and switching screens, and boxing out, all culminating in what is known as the clichéd “Villanova Basketball”. Daniel Ochefu starting next to Mouph seems to give Villanova the size in the frontcourt that it desperately needs. Jayvaughn Pinkston continues to come off the bench to give the ‘Cats the spark and toughness off the bench when the offense becomes stagnant.
Providence, despite its 2-7 Big East record, brought UConn to overtime before eventually falling 82-79. LaDontae Henton recorded his eighth double double of the season. Bryce Cotton dropped his usual 18 points, and Kadeem Batts scored a game high 20 points.
Villanova is looking to exact revenge on Providence for the loss it suffered at “The Dunk” two weeks ago. In that game, Villanova let Providence come back from a seven-point halftime lead to win 69-66.
The main problem, and it has been a bugaboo for the team all season, was turnovers. Villanova committed 25 turnovers against the Friars, as well as allowing Providence 19 offensive rebounds.
To win, the Wildcats need to continue the intensity and execution it has displayed in the last few games. Bryce Cotton will probably score 20 or so points, but limiting the Friars’ other two offensive threats should prove to stifle Providence at the Pavilion.