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Villanova vs. Purdue Basketball Preview

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An early season showdown of ranked teams will be a good test for the Wildcats

NCAA Basketball: McNeese State at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday night the #4 Villanova Wildcats will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana to take on the #15 Purdue Boilermakers as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Both teams come into the game at 1-0 after relatively easy wins against unranked opponents.

Monday night’s match-up will pit the dominant front court of Purdue against the offensive firepower of Villanova’s back-court. Which style of play will win out? Here’s three things to watch for that could decide the game.

Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan is a baaaad man!

On Friday night 6’9” 250lb sophomore Caleb Swanigan put up a monster line of 23 points, 20 rebounds, and 6 assists. All were team highs. The former McDonald’s All-American is a force on both ends of the court that can anchor a defense as well as operate an offense from inside the paint. Against a much smaller Wyoming team, he simply had his way and scored at will. Villanova will have to find a way to combat his size and strength through double-teams or denying the interior pass. Either way it won’t be easy.

Run Baby Run

One advantage that the defending champs will have Monday night is a deeper, more athletic back court. While it certainly isn’t the way Jay Wright prefers to play, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wildcats try to turn this game into a track meet. Expect to see both the 1-2-2 and full court pressure on defense as they try to wear down the Purdue ball handlers. Similarly look for quick, up-court outlet passes on offense to try to get the fast break going and force to Boilermakers to retreat on defense.

Perimeter Play Will Be Crucial

With 7’2” Isaac Haas, 6’9” Caleb Swanigan, and 6’8” Vincent Edwards patrolling the paint, it’s going to be important that Villanova uses it’s spacing and three point shooting to open up the interior. If they can start hitting shots from deep, it will force those big guys to come out and play closer to the edge, opening passing/slashing lanes for the wings to get easier inside shots. If Purdue is able to keep their defense packed inside, it could be a long night for the Wildcats.