Tomorrow Villanova takes on Oklahoma in the Pearl Harbor Classic. With Kentucky and Maryland losing this week, there is a chance the Sooners enter the top 5 before tip-off, making the game look that much better for Villanova's resume.
The Sooners enter the matchup 5-0 coming off a 43-point win over the Central Arkansas Bears. The Wildcats look to stay unbeaten after handling Big 5 rival Saint Josephs. `Nova kept their poise even after Daniel Ochefu picked up two fouls in the first few minutes of that game, showing that this team is capable of making adjustments.
Villanova remains at number one according to KenPom, lead by their stifling defense. They allow on average 56.1 PPG, good for third in the nation. Where Villanova struggles most is from their favorite spot on the court- behind the arc. The `Cats shoot just under 31% from three, which ranks last in the conference and in the bottom 100 in the NCAA. With a defense on fleek, some hot shooting will surely keep Villanova as one of the top teams in the country.
Here's what to look out for tomorrow:
Daniel Ochefu needs to stay on the court
Last Tuesday Ochefu picked up two fouls in the first 1:17. After some time on the bench, he came back in the game halfway through the first half, only to pick up his third foul. He finished the game with just those three fouls, however without him the frontcourt was reliant on Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds. SJU's forwards Isaish Miles, DeAndre Bembry and James Demery combined for 44 points on combined 19-40.
Oklahoma's leading rebounder Ryan Spangler will absolutely give the Wildcats some trouble if Ochefu has to sit for an extended period of time. He leads his team with 9.4 RPG and shoots 63.2% from the field. One way to stop Ryan is to send him to the free throw line- he only shoots 57.9%.
Yeah, you probably thought of him first. He's projected 17th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft; the best athlete Villanova will face before conference play. He leads his team with 21.4 PPG while averaging less than 27 minutes. As a guard he contributed 5.8 RPG and shoots 47.2% (50% from three). He even excels at the free throw line with an efficient 86.7%.
Hield is coming off back-to-back poor efforts against Wisconsin and Central Arkansas where he shot a combined 32.1% for 31 points. Eleven of those points were from the free throw line where he converted on 11-13. The Wildcats needs to make the most of the minutes where Buddy is sitting on the bench; it seems like there are a lot of those.
Defense needs to show up
According to KenPom, the average adjusted defense for Oklahoma opponents is 105.3. If that makes no sense to you, that is okay! All that matters is that is 332nd in Division 1. In other words, Villanova is BY FAR the toughest opponent Oklahoma has played this season, and that may fluster their offense. With a stellar defense, a strong offensive showing should give the Wildcats a win.