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Lets play again! - Villanova/Cincy Preview

Villanova played Cincinnati once already and as has been the case in many games, the Wildcats played strong in the first half, taking a small, 5-point lead into the intermission before losing to the Bearcats by 4 points. Villanova has won 4 games since that meeting, including a late Thursday night clash at Rutgers, and will hope to carry some momentum and enthusiasm into their final regular-season game at the Pavilion.

Cincinatti's record sits at 11-6 in conference play and they may still be able to clinch a double-bye at Madison Square Garden with a win this weekend. Villanova will be playing again on Tuesday regardless of outcome, but would clearly appreciate some momentum that would come with a win over the 21-9 Bearcats.

The game will have some impact on Big East standings for Villanova, and depending on how Saturday's games go across the conference, the Wildcats could be seeded anywhere from 11th through 15th on Tuesday. They will have a tough road to get to Saturday at Madison Square Garden, however, no matter what happens this weekend.

The Bearcats had four players score in double-digits against the Wildcats in January, including a team-high of 22 points from Dion Dixon, who hit 4 triples in the first half of that game. He was joined by Yancy Gates with 16 points and 9 rebounds, Sean Kilpatrick with 14 points, and point guard Cashmere Wright with 11 points.

Kilpatrick averages just over 14 points per game, while Dixon scores 13.5 ppg, Gates averages 11.7 ppg and Wright contributes 10.8 ppg for Cincy. Gates also leads the team with just under 10 rebounds per game and has been one of the Big East's top big men this season. Wright leads the offensive with 4.5 assists per contest.

Where Villanova edges out the Bearcats is in getting to the free-throw line, where the 'Cats have a FT Rate of 39.1% to Cincy's 29.6%, and offensive rebounding, where the 'Cats own a slight edge, 14.3 to 13.6 per game. When the Wildcats get to the free-throw line, they shoot a higher percentage than Cincinnati as well (76.2% vs 64.6%). Villanova is also 10th in the nation in total rebounding-per-game, with an average of 39.8 boards.

Villanova has won its last three games against Cincinnati at the Pavilion. This season the Wildcats are 9-5 at home but four of the five losses were at the Wells Fargo Center. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has went 6-5 on the road.

Maalik Wayns currently has 1,128 career points at Villanova and will pass Malik Allen for 48th-place in the school's all-time scoring list if he notches 4 more points.

The game will tip-off at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 3rd from the Pavilion at Villanova and will be aired nationally on ESPN.

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