After struggling through the first half Friday night before ultimately running away from the UDC Firebirds 78-58 (also make sure to check out Jeremy's recap from the student section), the Villanova Wildcats will take on the Marshall Thundering Herd on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm ET at The Pavilion in the 2nd round of the 2012 2KSports Classic.
No matter the result, Villanova will move on to the semifinals in New York City but Marshall may provide a stiffer test than Purdue, who lost on Friday night to Bucknell. Marshall was picked to finish 2nd in Conference USA this season behind traditional powerhouse Memphis, and were just a couple of quality wins away from an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last year. They'll look to change that this season.
Tom Herrion's team is going to look, at least size-wise, like a Big East team when they enter The Pavilion on Sunday, and Villanova better be ready. The Herd return a solid core of 3 players from last year's team that lost in the Conference USA Tournament finals to Memphis in DeAndre Kane, Robert Goff and Dennis Tinnon.
Kane was last year's leading scorer at 16.5 ppg and at 6'4" he's got a lot of height and length in the backcourt. He scored 18 in their opening night victory over Longwood. His running mate will be D.D. Scarver, a junior college transfer that averaged over 24 ppg last year at Trinity Valley and also scored 18 in their opening night victory.
The Herd only get bigger in the frontcourt with Tinnon and Goff who come in a 6'8" and 6'9" respectively and both have a lot of beef on them. In the middle is Nigel Spikes, a 6'10" center who nearly picked up a double-double in the Longwood victory.
Keys To Victory
Battle On The Boards - Villanova outrebounded an undersized UDC team, and looked especially good on the defensive glass, but this is going to be a different animal. Marshall has got size all over the court and it will be a test of Villanova's big men to win the battle down low all night.
Defense To Offense - The 'Nova defense was active and used the fast break to perfection on Friday night. Last season Jay Wright seemed to hold that back a little bit but with a plethora of athletes to throw at teams, he seemed to embrace the uptempo play Friday night. He'd be well served to let his team try and run a bigger, and maybe slower, team off the floor.
Turnovers - Villanova had far too many turnovers against a Division II opponent on Friday night. If they do that again, there's no way they'll be able to walk out of The Pavilion 2-0. It's not just Ryan Arcidiacono and Tony Chennault that need to take care of the ball either -- it needs to permeate through the entire team.
Villanova is going to need the team that showed up for the first 10 minutes of the game and the 2nd half if they're going to pick up the win against a very strong Marshall team. The Herd won't be as forgiving as UDC when it comes to taking advantage of the amount of turnovers Villanova gave away on Friday night. If Villanova can shoot the ball effectively, their defense should help carry them to a confidence-boosting early season win.
The game will be shown live on ESPN3 starting at 1 pm ET.