The Villanova Wildcats return to The Pavilion to host their rivals from down I-95, the Delaware Blue Hens. This rivalry has existed mostly on the football field (with 'Nova dominating in recent years, I might add), but rest assured Delaware will be giving the Wildcats 100%. 'Nova's last time out was either thrilling or stressful depending on your point of view, as they dispatched La Salle 76-69 in overtime on Tuesday night.
Join me after The Jump for more on tomorrow night's game.
Similar to the victory over Monmouth, 'Nova should be considered the serious favorites in this contest. It might not be as big a margin as that, but there is a serious discrepancy in talent between the two sides.
Delaware suffered mightily from a serious shooting outage against Radford, going just 15-52 from the field (28.8%) and 2-14 from beyond the arc (14.3%). Radford's 25 fouls sent them to the line 36 times, but they were only able to convert at a 61% clip from the charity stripe.
Delaware's best two players are guard Devon Saddler and forward Jamelle Hagins. Sadler's 5-22 effort from the floor for 18 points suggests that he may already be in gunner mode early in the year - or that Delaware is so thin offensively that he's being forced to shoot at Michael Jordan rates (yet sadly, convert like Allen Iverson - 30% rate in his NBA scoring title season of 2001-2002).
Hagins had a much more workmanlike performance that likely delighted coach Monté Ross. He put up 17 points on 5-11 shooting (7-8 from the FT line) and hauled in 9 rebounds. He's a little undersized at 6'7", but his All-CAA Defensive Team selection last season shows that he knows how to play. His 7 blocks against 'Nova last season should be an eye-opener as well.
Past that, there isn't too much to be concerned about on the Blue Hens roster. Ross only gave run-outs to 8 players in the season opener, but might have to dig deeper on his bench considering how Villanova has been drawing fouls and getting to the line in the first two games of the season.
Last season, Villanova romped over the Hens 79-58 behind Corey Fisher's 21 points. Maalik Wayns also had 14 in the win, so look for him to be hungry again. James Bell also had a strong early-season game with 10 points and he's been looking for his offense through he first two games, so expect a good game for him as well.
'Nova was able to contain both Saddler and Hagins last season on the offensive end, and this year it looks like they have even less in that department. Look for 'Nova to cruise on Friday night.
Prediction: Villanova wins 83-60
Delaware pojected starting lineup:
G Devon Saddler
F Jamelle Hagins
F Larry Savage
Villanova projected starting lineup:
G Maalik Wayns
C Mouphtaou Yaoru
G Tyrone Johnson