Burying the Lede
When Villanova’s non-conference schedule was released, the games against UCLA and Baylor (and even a Jimmy V match-up against Syracuse) stole the headlines. A potential early match-up with the always-steady Purdue wasn’t really moving the needle - even if we owe them some payback.
However, Purdue, ranked #4 in KenPom, is projected to be a national title contender this year. Unable to secure the win against UCLA, Villanova now has a chance to muscle out a victory against a team that will be in the hunt for the rest of the season.
Although he is presently seeing some limited minutes, the Boilermakers go through big man Trevion Williams. Williams was named first-team All-Big Ten last season and led the Boilermakers with 15.5 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game. He was also one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which is given to the nation’s best collegiate center each year.
This year, he is averaging 11.7 points per game and dropped 20 against UNC on Saturday afternoon. Williams is a handful down low. He measures in at 6’9, 270 lbs. and has great movement off the ball. He is also a monster on the boards and has the vision to keep plays alive. Williams will be a challenge for a Villanova’s defense that was especially impressive against Tennessee.
Last year, four freshmen tallied major minutes for a Purdue team that ranked 327th in experience - babies! Jaden Ivey (6’4) and Brandon Newman (6’5) return to the backcourt and it wouldn’t be Purdue if there wasn’t a 7’4 skyscraper lurking in the paint - big man Zach Edey. Jaden Ivey dropped 22 against UNC while senior Sasha Stefanovic dropped in 23 on 5-11 from deep.
Ivey will likely be the main challenge for Villanova. Not a strong outside shooter, Ivey makes his money at the rim. He has a quick first step and can get into the lane quickly - he’s exactly the type of player to take advantage of slow defensive switch. Further, he has the length and the hops to actually body ‘Nova’s guards at the cup.
The game tips off at 1:00 p.m. on ABC.