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preGame: Villanova vs. Syracuse

(Note: Bud Light will be sponsoring the stretch run here, where we'll be writing a series of posts as part of their 'Here We Go' campaign. Bud Light will be shipping 2 lucky contest winners to Vegas. Details are at the conclusion of this post)

While it's not quite March yet, college basketball fans everywhere are getting that feeling again - March Madness is right around the corner. These last few weeks before the conference tournament are when the bubble teams need to get that signature win on their resume and when the teams that are considered locks to go dancing start fighting for seeding.

Quick Sidebar - Did anyone else notice Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery calling the Tennessee-Georgia game on Saturday? Is this a first? Our prayers appear to finally have been answered. This better continue for the NCAA Tournament. I'm so excited I might wet myself.

If you are a fan of either the Villanova Wildcats or the Syracuse Orange, you've got that 'Here We Go' feeling as your team makes one final push to get a high seed. And the winner of tonight's game will definitely have something to hang their hat on, as two of the upper-echolon teams in the Big East team duke it out in Philadelphia tonight.

It wasn't really a week to remember (the good kind anyways) for either squad as both teams needed overtime to get past their latest foe - Villanova beating DePaul 77-75 and Syracuse topping Rutgers 84-80. None of that matters tonight though. Corey Stokes and Jay Wright have both confirmed the senior will have a part to play in tonight's game, something that could be making 'Cuse fans think "here we go (again)" after Stokes aided the 3-point assault on The Carrier Dome earlier this year.

How much Stokes can help out will come down to how healthy he is and how he performs, so the 'Nova cast you've been seeing lately (i.e. Corey Fisher) is going to have to continue to step up. Syracuse on the other hand will be out avenge their loss earlier this year and pick up another quality win as we near Selection Sunday.

More thoughts on the game, and the details of the Bug Light contest after The Jump.

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Location: The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA

TV: ESPN with Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas & Bill Raftery on the call (praise the Lord)

Keys To The Game:

  • Win The Turnover Battle - I don't care if you have to use this sticky stuff from the Bud Light tailgate. Against Syracuse's lethal fast-break, we have to hold on to the ball or we're going to get run out of the building.

  • Defend The 3-Ball - Our defense has been stellar this year. Nobody can argue that. But we've actually been so good at denying penetration and inside the arc that lately teams (Seton Hall & DePaul) have been content to just bomb away from downtown. Syracuse has good shooters, including both Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche. We need to close out and challenge these shots.
  • The 'Nova Supporting Cast - Corey Fisher is going to be a marked man all night long. He'll get his shots, and most likely get his points, but who is going to step up and help lead 'Nova to victory? James Bell? Maalik Wayns? Mouphtaou Yarou? Dominic Cheek? One of these players will need to have a very good night (it was Wayns last time out vs. 'Cuse) for us to get the win.
Make no mistake, with games still to play vs. the red-hot St. John's Red Storm, and road dates with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Pittsburgh Panthers, it's imperative that 'Nova gets off on the right foot as we head towards The Dance. 

Make sure to head over to Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for more coverage on tonight's game as well.

What are your keys to tonight's match? Can Villanova get the job done against Jim Boeheim's men? Let's talk about it in the comments below.

Bud Light Contest Details:

 PLAY THE MARCH TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AND YOU COULD WIN A TRIP FOR TWO TO LAS VEGAS! LOOK FOR THE CODE INSIDE SPECIALLY-MARKED PACKAGES 12-PACKS OF BUD LIGHT ENTER CODE AT FACEBOOK.COM/BUDLIGHT No Purchase Necessary. Open to U.S. residents (except CA & TX) 21+. For a chance to win a Grand or First Prize, Game Period 1 begins 3PM CST on 2/14 & ends 3PM CDT on 3/18. For a chance to win a First Prize only, Game Period 2 begins 3:00:01PM CDT on 3/18 & ends 3PM CDT on 4/30. To participate, obtain a Code from inside specially-marked packages of Bud Light beer or to request a Code without purchase, visit during a Game Period. Limit one (1) free Code request/day/person or email address. To play, text HOOPS to BEERS (23377) & follow prompts or visit & follow instructions. See Official Rules inside package or at for complete details. Void in CA, TX & where prohibited. Enjoy Responsibly – ©2011 Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Bud Light® Beer, St. Louis, MO