After a slow start on Tuesday night, the Villanova Wildcats ran away with the game against Nebraska late in the first half. They expect to be heavy favorites hosting the East Tennessee State Buccaneers as a part of the Preseason NIT. The Bucs went 16-14 overall, including a 9-11 record in Southern Conference play last season.
Some avid college basketball fans may only remember the Southern Conference exists because of Stephen Curry and his outstanding career for the Davidson Wildcats, including an improbable run to the Elite 8 in 2008 (Davidson has since left for the A-10). To make matters even worse for the Bucs, they lost 3 starters from last year's team as well. Here a few things to look for in a game that the Wildcats would prefer to put out of reach early.
'Chef To Feast Again
He has shown marked improvement each season of his career, and that has truly been on display so far this season. Despite a good team win on Tuesday night, where all Wildcats played well, Daniel Ochefu shined brightly. He put his rumored new face-up game on display Tuesday night, making a jumper from the short corner in addition to several drives off a face-up shot fake. Through the first two games of the season Ochefu is averaging 16.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, even more impressive when considering the one-sided nature of the games has limited him to 21.5 minutes per contest. ETSU's starting "forwards" stand at 6'2" and 6'7", so on paper this looks to be a game that 'Chef can dominate once again on both ends of the floor.
But Wait? Could There Be An Answer For Him?
As previously mentioned, most of ETSU's rotation players are 6'8" and under, but they do have one 7-footer on their roster who is a deeper part of their rotation, Peter Jurkin, a junior from South Sudan. It may be interesting to see if coach Steve Forbes looks to play Jurkin more if Daniel Ochefu proves to be too much for handle for the rest of the Bucs' undersized frontcourt. Even playing in the Big East, 'Chef has rarely played against players taller than him.
Multiple Defensive Looks
While we can likely still expect some type of Villanova defensive press during the game, as well as tough man-to-man defense, we saw Jay Wright pull a 2-3 zone out of his back pocket against Fairleigh Dickinson last week. Even though he didn't use it against Nebraska, this looks like another game to experiment with that look. He has more long, athletic versatile defenders (Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo in particular) than ever before, and the sooner they get comfortable with the rotations involved, the more havoc they can create.
Overall, we expect this to be more of another tune-up game for the 'Cats than a true test, with ETSU being a lower quality opponent than Nebraska. Daniel Ochefu has been the best player for the Wildcats through the first two games of the season, and I expect that trend to continue into this game as well.