The Villanova Wildcats (25-4, 12-4) will travel to the Prudential Center on Wednesday night to take on the Seton Hall Pirates (20-9, 9-7). These two teams last met earlier this month on February 4th when the Wildcats used a strong 2nd half to beat Seton Hall 92-76.
Since then, Seton Hall has had an up-and-down ride. The loss to Villanova was the first of a four game losing streak, which included a home defeat to Marquette, and road losses to Georgetown and Xavier. They followed that tough stretch up with victories over DePaul, Providence, and St. John’s.
Here are three things to watch for:
Desi Rodriguez’s Health
The 6’6” senior wing has been a major part of the Pirates’ success this season, but it is unclear if Rodriguez will be able to play Wednesday. The Bronx, New York native suffered an ankle injury in the first part of the Pirates’ victory against Providence. Rodriguez sat out the resumed portion of the Providence game and the St. John’s game on Saturday.
The New York Posts Zach Braziller has reported Rodriguez was still in a walking boot as of Saturday. There is obviously still some time before Wednesday’s game, but not having Rodriguez would certainly hurt Seton Hall’s chances against Villanova. Rodriguez is currently averaging 18 points per game on 38% shooting from three, to go with five rebounds and 2.2 assists. In the first match up with the Wildcats, Rodriguez led the Pirates with 20 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Angel Delgado, a 6’10” senior, is one of the best players in the Big East. The Dominican Republic native averages a double-double, 13.3 points per game to go with 11.8 rebounds. The big man had an impressive 18 points and nine rebounds in the Pirates’ first game against Villanova this season, but was upstaged by Omari Spellman’s 26 points and 11 rebounds on 6-7 shooting from three.
Delgado had an impressive showing earlier this season, but he has a bit of a history of struggling against the Wildcats. Last season, the Pirates’ and Wildcats met three times, and in two of those games Delgado was held below double digits in scoring and rebounding. In Delgado’s sophomore season the two teams also faced off three times, with Delgado’s best game being a 12 point, eight rebound effort in a home loss. If Villanova can contain Delgado one final time, it will give the ‘Cats a good chance of leaving Seton Hall with a win.
It has been pretty widely talked about, but Jay Wright’s team has not lost back to back games in quite a long time. The last time the Wildcats lost back to back games was at the end of the 2012-13 season when Villanova lost to Louisville in the Big East Tournament and followed that up with a loss to North Carolina in the 8/9 game in the NCAA tournament. It has been four full seasons since Villanova lost back to back games, and it is close to being a fifth.
Going on the road to visit Seton Hall is a tough spot to have to avoid two consecutive losses, but the ‘Cats were in a similar situation just two weeks ago. After being defeated by Providence, Villanova had to travel to Xavier, then the #4 ranked team in the country. The ‘Cats came out firing and held on late for a 95-79 victory. Villanova has shown they respond after a loss, even in tough environments. If they can do that one more time, they can grab a big win in Newark before returning home for the regular season finale against the Georgetown Hoyas.