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Villanova returns home to seek a more-than-moral victory over Pitt

Villanova is coming off a loss that featured a few moral victories. Now they come home to the Pavilion to host the Pitt Panthers, fresh off an OT loss to Marquette. How do the two schools match up?

Rob Carr

After giving Syracuse a bit of a scare on Saturday, as much as a two point lead at halftime could be considered a "scare", Villanova comes home to The Pavilion to face the Pitt Panthers as Big East play continues to get into full swing. Don’t let the Panthers’ 1-3 Big East start fool you, as they have had a relatively tough Big East schedule already, playing #20 Cincinnati and #22 Georgetown and a Marquette team that is 3-0 in conference play. In Pitt’s last game against Marquette, the Panthers forced overtime on Lamar Patterson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer before falling quietly in overtime.

Villanova’s game against Syracuse had a promising start, with the ‘Cats’ tough defense holding the #7 Syracuse Orange at bay. Check out our very own Chris Lane’s post on the positives gleaned from Villanova’s loss on Saturday. Now it’s up to the Wildcats to build on their successes, rather than revert back to form.

The big question is whether or not super-senior Tray Woodall will be on the court tomorrow evening. The 5th year guard out of Brooklyn suffered a concussion early on in Pitt’s game against the Golden Eagles. Tray thinks that he’s fine. "I’m 100 percent," Woodall said. "I’m fine. I’m ready to go."

The man who controls who plays and who doesn’t, however, is a bit more cautious than that. "If the doctors feel he can‘t play, even though he says he can, then he can‘t play," Dixon said. "It‘s as simple as that. As you know, we err on the side of caution. We‘re at the forefront of concussion testing."

A win against the Panthers would be great for the ‘Cats as they quietly look to prove they are better than pre-season polls indicated.

Keys to Victory: Villanova

Perimeter Defense: Am I beating a dead horse here? Perimeter defense is, in a word, poor. They have managed to survive some games earlier in the year where the opponent shot the lights out from deep. Pitt showed that it could knock down a three when needed, so perimeter defense remains an issue.

JVP and Arch: There are many people clamoring for Jayvaughn to play more, but I like his minute allocation as it stands now. There are facets of his game that need work, such as defense and finesse around the rim. Ryan Arch has been developing nicely, but he’s far from a finished product. Assists need to go up, turnovers down, three point attempts need to be closer to the line.

The Pavilion: There’s nothing really the team can do about this, but this is the first game back from break and it’s syllabus week. The Pavilion is a tough place to play when it is loud. Just look at the St. Joe’s game to see the impact the student section can have on an outcome.

Keys to Victory: Pittsburgh

Tray Woodall: This is Pitt’s second leading scorer and senior presence. If he get’s cleared to play, his minutes might be restricted. It’ll be really tough for Pitt if he can’t play. Going 1-4 to start the Big East would be a horrendous start for Pitt.

Free throw shooting: The Panthers essentially flipped a coin 26 times at the charity stripe against Marquette, making only 13 free throws. They probably won’t shoot that poorly on Wednesday, but if they do, they will have a tough time.

Prediction: Villanova ekes out a close one, 61-59.

Watch the game live on ESPNU at 7:00pm on Wednesday night.