It's here, it's here! Finally, our we get to see what our Villanova Wildcats are really about as they head to Madison Square Garden in New York City to take on the UCLA Bruins. The last time these two faced each, it was at The Wachovia Center in Philadelphia in the 2nd round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won that game 89-69 en route to the Final Four.
Very few faces on each side played a part in that game, (Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena for 'Nova - just Malcolm Lee [who is a doubt for this game] for the Bruins) so nobody should except a similar outcome, even though Villanova are listed as solid favorites heading into the clash.
Like 'Nova, UCLA hasn't played exceptional competition yet this season, so it's tough to say exactly what kind of team they are this year. Malcolm Lee is definitely a player when healthy, but nobody seems to know whether he'll suit up tonight, much less how much of an impact he'll have.
So far it's been a two-head monster for the Bruins between Reeves Nelson (19.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and Tyler Honeycutt (15.7 pgg, 8.3 rpg). Nelson is more your traditional forward while Honeycut can play outside as well. A combination of Stokes/Dominic Cheek & Isaiah Armwood will likely see duties on Honeycutt while Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou share the responsibility of slowing down Nelson.
This game will give an indication of just how good 'Nova can be this year. Will they struggle with their first real test or will we see them come out and dominate from the get-go?
See you for more coverage after The Jump.
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Location: Madison Square Garden in New York, NY
Radio: 570 AM/Sirius-XM Radio
The View From Vegas
The Line is Villanova -6.5
The Over/Under is OFF
UCLA might not have the high expectations of years past, but it will most certainly be the toughest test Villanova has faced so far this season. The No. 7 Wildcats will be looking to measure themselves against a quality opponent when they face the Bruins on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.
The Nova Blog's Thoughts
For me, this game comes down to not overlooking UCLA, which I don't think we will. It's no secret we haven't had a test yet - but this will be, believe it! Ben Howland is a great coach and he has recruited well. This Bruins team is very young, but also very talented.
We'll find out quickly if our frontcourt has improved like we think it has. We have the clear advantage in the backcourt, but it's a little murkier up front, and based on individual play so far, you have to give the edge to UCLA.
If the frontcourt can slow UCLA down inside, we should win this without too much stress.