The Villanova Wildcats will face the Nicholls State Colonels on Tuesday night in a game that will captivate the nation for 30 minutes before the start of Duke vs. Michigan State. The Colonels are coming off of an 111-104 barn burner against UTRGV, which, just FYI, is worth nine points in a game of Scrabble.
The Colonels, coming from Thibodaux, Louisiana and out of the Southland Conference, finished last season with 14-17 (7-11) record under first year coach Richie Riley. The school last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1998, losing to the #1 seed Arizona Wildcats led by Mike Bibby.
Here are three things to watch for Tuesday night:
Defense will be offensive.
To put it plainly, Nicholls State does not play defense. Last year, the Colonels finished 326th in adjD with opponents averaging nearly 80 points a game. The Colonels are coming off their first game of the season, wherein they gave up 104 points to UTVGA (#292) with both teams attempting over 80 field goals. To offset their defensive insufficiencies, Nicholls State looks to maximize their number of possessions through quick shots. Nicholls State averaged nearly 75 possessions a game, the 39th highest in the country. For contrast, Villanova’s 67 possessions a game ranked 328th.
Respect your elders
Much has been made about Villanova’s lack of seniors this season. So, if there’s a narrative to be written for this game (and there really isn’t), it will be Villanova’s “youth” against Nicholls State’s nine seniors. The Colonels are led by senior guards Jahvaughn Powell and Lafayette Rutledge, who start alongside the 7’0 Clemson-transfer Legend Robertin. The team consists of mostly transfers hailing from Tulsa, Colorado State, UNC-Greensboro, Arizona State, and a number of community colleges. So, while the players may have a variety of experience at different levels, they have not played together for much longer than the young Cats, something Villanova will look to exploit on the defensive end.
Luck might have run out...
They say luck is a fool’s currency but, if you’re a Nicholls State Colonel, it appears to be your preferred payment method. While perusing the KenPom rankings preparing this preview, I noticed that Nicholls State ranked #6 in the county in “luck” last season. Luck, on KenPom’s rankings, is basically the deviation in winning percentage between a team’s actual record and their expected record. Some argue it measures “clutchness,” essentially the ability to steal close games you should otherwise (or sometimes) lose, while some argue that it’s catch-all stat for deviations for which the KenPom model cannot account. Regardless while the KenPom model suggests Nicholls State occasionally wins games they shouldn’t, this will likely not be one of them.
The game tips at 6:30 p.m. on FS1. Go ‘Cats!