Villanova will make the cross-town trip to the famed Palestra on Saturday night to face Penn wrap up their Big 5 schedule. The 'Cats are hoping to go unbeaten in their local rivalries for the second straight year and capture their 23rd Big 5 championship, bringing them to within 4 titles of Temple's lead.
Other than Jerome Allen bringing out a fine suit, the Quakers really shouldn't provide much of a challenge (they're 294th in RPI) to any part of Villanova's program, but tradition is tradition so here are three things to think about prior to Saturday night's tip.
What offensive attack will Villanova bring?
In early season struggles against Lehigh and Bucknell, the Wildcats got stagnant and proceeded to fall in love with the 3-ball and it kept games against inferior competition much closer than it should have been. In their last two games, both blowouts over DePaul and Xavier, an ugly pattern reared its head but nobody seemed to mind because 'Nova seemingly couldn't miss. In between those 4 games, exceptional ball movement and an offense predicated on attacking the rim and dishing have dominated.
Penn has no business on the same floor as Villanova, but if the Wildcats stick with the bombs away strategy - and can't connect - the game could be closer than it should be.
What's the Chef cooking?
Daniel Ochefu hasn't had much to do other than clean the glass in the last two wins, so it'd be nice for him to get his mojo back Saturday night. Fran Dougherty is gone, but junior Darien Nelson-Henry has the size at 6'11" to give Chef a fight. The big man even dropped 12 and 7 on Villanova last year.
Villanova has had pretty good success going to Ochefu early and often and getting the opposing team's frontline in to foul trouble. With just freshman Mike Auger and sophomore Dylan Jones having a hope of defending Ochefu, Coach Wright would be well served trying to eliminate Nelson-Henry from the mix early.
Will Jerome Allen upstage Jay Wright in the wardrobe department?
Nobody in their right mind would deny that Allen has some silky suits sitting in his closet...but come on. We're talking about Jay Wright here.