Tonight at 7:05 PM, the 8th ranked Wildcats (9-1) travel to West Long Branch, NJ to face off against the Monmouth University Hawks (4-7). After early season wins over prestigious powerhouses such as Lehigh, Eastern Michigan, North Dakota and Hartford, the Hawks come in riding a two game losing streak, after losing in blowout fashion to in-state rivals Rider and Rutgers.
Nova will be the highest ranked team to ever visit the Monmouth campus and to me the only benefit of us making the trip up there is the proximity to our NJ guys' hometowns (Stokes, Cheek, Ouano). Thankfully this will be the final game of the season against low major cupcakes and, despite us playing a late December game that isn't even televised, it is one final opportunity to get tuned up before facing a talented and ranked Temple squad next week that will be gunning to knock the Cats off.
Monmouth is led by a balanced if not potent attack with 4 players averaging between 7.7 and 9.9 points per game. They are averaging less than 60 points and less than 2,000 fans per game and lack an interior presence. This should be a walk.
More coverage after The Jump.
I always look to KenPom early in the year to look for insight to these games against teams which we really hear nothing about in the national media. Ken has Villanova ranked 20th right now in the country (rankings are calculated by factoring in performance so far in different categories and strength of schedule, an area we all know is weak at this time of year), which I think is quite fair seeing as we have struggled to bury some of these squads.
Monmouth is ranked 298th. I pray every year that we schedule more than a couple decent non conference games (strength of schedule right now is a modest 160th in the country) but this just seems to be the Wright way since Jay has taken over. Let's hope the squad is ready for the Big East gauntlet in the new year.