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Villanova vs. Xavier preview: 3 things to consider

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Time to be politically correct.

The Villanova Wildcats only clinched a SHARE of the Big East Regular Season Title. Georgetown could still win!

Xavier has only lost two conference games at home, meaning the Cintas Center is a tough environment. The last time Xavier faced Villanova, the Wildcats hit 15-three pointers and won by 13. Matt Stainbrook had 17 points on 7-8 shooting. Which leads me to my first point.


Basically Xavier got what they wanted in the paint on January 14th. The Musketeers were 23-41 from within the arc. That's 56.1%! Only late in the second half did Coach Chris Mack realize that the plan to go inside worked, and Villanova used hot shooting to stay undefeated at home. I'm sure Mack will go to that strategy early, so Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston will be busy.

Stainbrook's efficient game last time out was no accident. The senior is shooting 60% from the field this year. Moreover, he is shooting 77.1% from the free throw line, so fouling him won't do much justice. For some reason Mack didn't try to find him much last game. I fear Villanova will not have an answer again.

Cut down their assists

Xavier is 7th in the country in assists per game at 16.1. They are lead by Dee Davis who averages 6.1 APG. Their last game, however, was more balanced. Xavier had 14 assists against St. John's but four of their five starters had at least 3 assists. Even Stainbrook averages over 2 APG. Their balanced attack needs to be disrupted in order to halt any Xavier runs.

In the last Villanova-Xavier game, Ryan Arcidiacono had 18 points on 5-10 shooting with 6 assists. He put the team on his back when Darrun Hilliard only managed 3-10 shooting. Arch should manage another great game as ball distributor in order to have the rest of the team get into a rhythm. Which leads to my next point.

Darrun Hilliard + JayVaughn Pinkson = yes

In his last four games DH4 is averaging 22.5 PPG on 47.2% shooting. More importantly he's shooting 63.2% beyond the arc! Let's stay on that track while we can. JVP is averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds, and has steadily been on the rise. When both are on their game, magic happens- we saw that against Providence.

Villanova won with threes last time, and Hilliard has obviously had some success in that department. The team has gotten a lot of second chance points thanks to Josh Hart and tipouts to reset the shot clock. Controlling the tempo is key!

Also, I'm only allowed 3 things to consider, so I couldn't go in depth about Phil Booth. Having him out on the floor with Arch has been great- Booth becomes the true PG and Arch can be the shooting guard he dreams about being every night.