Sunday, November 17, 2013
When: 5:00 pm Eastern
Towson Tigers (3-0) vs Villanova Wildcats (2-0)
RPI: Towson: 143 | Villanova: 47
KenPom: Towson: 110 | Villanova: 24
The Pavilion (Capacity: 6,500)
Where: Villanova, PA
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 610 WIP
Line: Villanova -14
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Both teams are undefeated to this point, although Towson has likely had some higher-quality wins thus far.
Since 1981, the two teams have squared off four times, with the Wildcats prevailing in each contest. Most recently, the 'Cats won a defensive struggle 64-47 in November of 2008. In these four games, 'Nova is averaging 80 points, and Towson just 60.25. Each win has come by double-digits, although this game may end up a bit closer than that.
The Tigers are the lone remaining undefeated CAA team, and are favorites to win the conference title. We're talking about a team that could easily end up with a deadly 12 or 13 seed come tourney time, if not better. (UPSET ALERT: You heard it here first. Towson will win an NCAA Tournament game this year.) Four of the five players that earn starters' minutes are seniors, and they will likely not be phased by the matchup at the Pavilion.
Towson is coming off of a 75-69 home win over the Temple Owls, who barely beat UPenn last week. All things considered, the Tigers will prove to be a tough matchup. They have a game against No. 5 Kansas coming up next week, so they'll be looking to head into that game with a instilled sense of confidence.
The key to the Tigers' success will rest almost entirely on the shoulders of senior Jerrelle Benimon. Last season, Benimon averaged 17.1 points per game and recorded 20 double-doubles en route to a CAA Player of the Year award. Through three games in 2013-14, he has posted 59 points and 41 rebounds. He also leads the Tigers in assists and blocks, and takes more than 10 free throws a game. If Daniel Ochefu and/or JayVaughn Pinkston get into foul trouble early on, Benimon could control the game.
"Benimon presents one of the toughest matchups we've seen," said Jay Wright about Towson. "The rest of the team plays with reckless abandon."
It's worth noting that Towson is shooting over 42 percent from behind the arc. Four of their everyday players are near 50 percent or better. Transfers Four McGlynn and Mike Burwell are two of their main contributors, along with Marcus Damas, who is averaging 14.3 points per game so far. It's an in-and-out style offense that could prove dangerous for a Villanova team that consistently seems to struggle against the three.
Pat Skerry is in his third year as head coach of the Towson Tigers. He is a graduate of Tufts, where he set the single-season and career record for assists. He has since coached at Tufts, Stonehill, Curry, Northeastern, William and Mary, College of Charleston, Rhode Island, Providence, and Pitt, before taking the job for the Tigers.
In his first season, Towson went an abysmal 1-31. He then generated the largest turnaround in college basketball history, transforming a 1-win team into an 18-win CAA runner-up in a matter of 12 months. Towson is his first Division I head coaching experience and he has already become a nationwide story.
Stacy Kiebler, now claiming to be an actress but more widely known as a former WWE Diva, and Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel headline the celebrities from Towson.
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