The No. 14 Villanova Wildcats (16-4, 7-0 BIG EAST) hit the road to Challenge DePaul (11-8, 3-5 BIG EAST) on Wednesday, January 30, with an 8:00 p.m. tip-off at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL.
Villanova will be on the hunt for their ninth straight win, while DePaul will look to end their two game losing streak.
Here are three thing to watch on Wednesday:
The Usual Suspects
Phil Booth and Eric Paschall have alternated dominating the field in Villanova’s last 8 games. In the Wildcat’s last game alone Booth had 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal. Booth is also leading the conference from outside the arc in the last 7 games. This game shouldn't be any different, especially following Booth’s dominant showing against Seton Hall over the weekend.
Backing Booth and Paschall, the Wildcats have found reliable players in Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. Graduate transfer Joe Cremo, and sophomore Jermaine Samuels have also made significant impacts on the court this season.
Villanova has a much deeper bench than DePaul. Only 8 Blue Demons have seen conference play. That’s including freshman Flynn Cameron, who has only played for 29 minutes.
DePaul’s leading men are Max Strus, with 17.4 points and 6.7 rebounds a game, Paul Reed, with 8 rebounds and 11 points a game, big man Femi Olujobi, with 13 points and 9 rebounds a game, and Eli Cain, who averages 12.4 points and 4 assists.
Home Team Advantage
Villanova may be heading into enemy territory, but the home team’s fanbase turnout tonight will be anyone’s guess. There is a dangerously cold wind-chill warning in Chicago with temperatures as low as -60. According to the warning, these temperatures could lead to frostbite if skin is exposed for as little as five minutes.
Still, DePaul is 9-3 at home, while the Wildcats are 4-2 on the road. The home court advantage would normally be a major factor in support of DePaul, but with the weather it’s hard to say if it will be.
Let History Say Something
Teams can change over time, there’s no doubt about that. But, the last 3 seasons plus what’s happened this year for DePaul speak for themselves.
While the then-unranked Wildcat’s win against DePaul earlier in the season was not a blowout, the ‘Cats dominated Seton Hall last weekend. DePaul also beat the Hall in their last face off, but it was a close one. DePaul bested the Pirates 97-93.
Plus, DePaul has not won more than 4 games in conference play in the last 3 years.
While the beginning of the season may have gotten off to a rocky start for the Wildcats, it looks like they are the team to beat once again.
Tune into CBS SN to watch the game.