Thursday's 14-point win over Stanford was just about as ugly as a 14-point win can be. Poor shooting and a lackluster effort on the boards were the story for the Wildcats, but for as awful as they were in those areas, their defensive effort was high-level as usual.
In the finals of the NIT Season Tip-off they'll face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech was impressive in beating Arkansas 83-73 to move their record to 4-1 on the season and it seems they've moved on from their shock defeat to East Tennessee State last weekend.
Here's what to look out for in Friday's final:
Georgia Tech is 16th in the country in rebounding margin
Early foul trouble, and more foul trouble later, meant that Daniel Ochefu wasn't on the floor very much to clean the glass for the Wildcats. Without him, Villanova struggled to keep Stanford off the glass in a game where there were plenty of second-chance opportunities for both sides.
At 6'8" and 270 lbs., Charles Mitchell will be a handful for whoever Jay Wright throws his way - the big man is averaging 14.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game so far. And he's hot to boot, having just thrown up 18 points and 18 rebounds in the win over the Razorbacks. And then there's Nick Jacobs at 6'8" 260 and averaging 15.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg.. Hopefully the Wildcats can adjust their strategy a bit because it will be more of the same from Thursday.
Shooting woes or not, Villanova should be able to score
For as good as they are on offense (90 ppg, 19th in the country), the Yellow Jackets are a terrible defensive unit. They're giving up 73.5 points per game to their opposition, a stat that Villanova should feel very good about going in to the game.
While the 'Cats shot the ball as bad as they will all season (30.6% overall), they can still use their defense to create easy offense and hopefully not settle for jumpers (7-34 3FG vs. Stanford) when they aren't falling.
Josh Hart vs. Marcus Georges-Hunt should be fun
The headlining match-up should be Hart and Georges-Hunt, who are very similar players and represent the top offensive options on their respective teams. While Hart is much more of a threat from the outside, Georges-Hunt provides the one skill that Hart is still working on - dribble-drive penetration.
In a game that should feature plenty of offense, these two will undoubtedly provide a lot of it. And if we're lucky, they'll be matched up most of the time.