Villanova will return to the friendly confines of the Pavilion Tuesday night as they take on the Delaware Blue Hens Tuesday at 7 P.M.
Delaware is 5-4 on the season and coming off of a 69-61 loss to Boston College. The Blue Hens best win this season was one over Kenpom's 266th best team, South Florida. These two teams also have a common opponent in Fairleigh Dickinson, 'Nova demolished them by 37, Delaware beat them by one.
The Wildcats, with their two big out of conference tests behind them, are now 8-2 on the year and only have two more games to prep for what looks to be a very difficult Big East slate. The 'Cats are still ranked 6th in Kenpom but their defense has faltered a bit over the past few weeks, going from what was the number one ranked defense, to now 15th.
Here's 3 things to watch for in Tuesday's showdown:
Delaware struggles on Defense
The Blue Hens strength this season is certainly not on the defensive end. Kenpom ranks them as the 218th best defense, as they give up 103.6 points per 100 possessions. Villanova, who scores 115.8 points per 100 possessions, matches up quite nicely.
To this point in the season Delaware's opponents have converted on 48.9% of their 2-point field goals, and 32.8% of their shots behind the arc, yet they haven't faced a team that is as nearly as good as Villanova. This is a good opportunity for the Wildcats to continue to get their three point shooting back on track as the Blue Hens perimeter defense is average at best.
Delaware's interior defense also has been a problem, and the fact that the Blue Hens three tallest players are 6'9" could explain why. This will also be a good opportunity for Daryl Reynolds to bounce back as he won't have a size mismatch come Tuesday night. Delaware's lack of height also brings the next point to the table...
Maurice Jeffers at 6'9" and Skye Johnson at 6'8" are the two big's who get regular minutes for the Blue Hens. That means Chef will regularly have two or three inches on the man covering him. Through ten games this season, Ochefu has seen as many as ten shots in one game, and as little as three.
Against Delaware it will be smart to give Chef 10-12 shots because of the large size advantage. The size advantage is important, but the fact that Jeffers and Johnson aren't great on defense is also important. Their defensive ratings on the season are 103.1 and 104.0, respectively. For perspective, only Henry Lowe has a D-rating in the triple digits for the Wildcats.
However it's likely that the Blue Hens will double him, it which case it is important for him to keep the ball high and pass out to the perimeter where he can get many hockey assists, or look for a cutter.
Mikal Bridges has been terrific at moving without the ball but others need to improve at it because it allows for many easy points at the bucket if Chef is being doubled.
Win the Battle of the Boards
The large size advantage for Chef, who is currently averaging 7.9 rebounds per game, presents an opportunity for him to not only dominate in the scoring column but also in the rebounding column. The leading rebounders for Delaware of Marvin King-Davis and Cazmon Hayes, who are grabbing 9.2 and 7.3 rebounds a game respectively.
They might be averaging more or as many rebounds per game, but neither can match Chef's 20.0 rebounding percentage. That, along with the fact that King-Davis is 6'7" and that Hayes is only 6'4" presents an opportunity for Chef to have a 15-15 type game.
If Villanova continues to play strong defense, this should be an easy win where they have an opportunity to make adjustments and get better.