clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What to watch for when #1 Villanova travels to DePaul

New, comments

The newly appointed #1 Wildcats are heavily favored, but all road wins in the Big East tend to be hard to come by

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats will play their first ever game tonight as the #1 ranked team in the country, and a trip to Allstate Arena to play a perennially terrible DePaul team is about as easy a draw as one could hope for. The 'Cats have had their struggles in Rosemont before, but they're still rightfully double-digit favorites Tuesday night. Here are 3 things to look for in the matchup with the DePaul Blue Demons.

The Return of Daniel Ochefu

Senior center Daniel Ochefu has missed the last three games due to a concussion, and appears set to return to action tonight. After the career afternoon from Darryl Reynolds against the Providence Friars on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how coach Jay Wright will manage minutes between his two primary big-men.

Reynolds is the hot hand and is brimming with confidence, while Ochefu hasn't played a competitive game in over two weeks. It wouldn't be a surprise for either to start the game, or play more minutes than the other. However, the sooner Ochefu is back to his best, the better it will be for Villanova.

The Biggest Target On Their Back

Much has been made about the new #1 ranking for the Wildcats, and for good reason. It is easy for Coach Wright to say that the players are honored by the ranking but will continue to play the same spirited basketball that we have seen all season.

That's the public line, but now more than ever Villanova is going to get everybody's best shot. Over the past 2.5 seasons, they've done a great job avoiding traps and taking care of business. On paper, this shouldn't be a stressful night for the players or the fans. I'm sure Providence thought that last week too.

How Will 'Nova Slow Down Billy Garrett Jr.?

Billy Garret is one of the most underrated players in the Big East, largely because he plays for the Blue Demons. He is an extremely versatile guard with great size, and he's the primary catalyst for DePaul (first in assists, second in points per game). If DePaul is going to have any chance in running with the Wildcats, Garrett will need to get going.

Because of this, we can expect the Wildcats' defense to be keyed in on slowing him down. As Wright has done in the past, expect a bevy of defenders to take their turn on Garrett. Ryan Aricidiacono, Phil Booth and Jalen Brunson may draw the first looks, but given Garrett's great size we may see Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart as well.