The Villanova Wildcats (21-7 overall, 14-4 in Big East) return to action on Tuesday night at Finneran Pavilion against Providence. Coming off a tough loss at UConn and the hands of referee James Breeding last week, Villanova will look to get back in the win column. The Friars clinched the regular season Big East title with their victory against Creighton this past weekend. They will try to avoid a regular season sweep against the ‘Cats. The game was normally scheduled to start at 7:00pm ET, but has been moved to 6:30pm ET. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
The Providence Friars (24-3, 14-2) are having one of their best years in program history. Ed Cooley has done a fantastic job with this team, even though a lot of the wins have been close. Their two losses in the Big East came at the hands of Marquette, and of course Villanova. The ‘Cats handed the Friars their first home defeat on February 15th.
Providence has some quality wins on their resume which will go a long way for the selection committee. Road wins at Wisconsin, UConn, and a home win against Texas Tech are the highlights of the Friars’ resume.
Providence is led by a handful of players, as every one has contributed on a consistent basis. Senior A.J. Reeves has been a solid presence for Providence, especially the past two games. The guard averages a little over 10 points per game, but has scored 16 and 23 over the past two games. Reeves also dropped 16 in the loss to Villanova, so the ‘Cats need to do a better job of limiting his scoring.
Nate Watson and Al Durham are two other seniors who have shot the ball well all season for Providence. Watson averages 14 points per game and Durham a little over 13. Watson played well against Villanova in the first meeting and he probably should have been fed the ball a lot more. Durham has been cold from distance lately as over his last six games, the senior guard has gone 0-14 from three- point range. His last made three was against Marquette, all the way back on January 30.
Jared Bynum and Ed Croswell are also two key contributors off the bench for the Friars. Bynum scored 27 in the 3OT win against Xavier and has become stronger as the season has gone on.
As a team, Providence ranks seventh in the conference in points per game at 72.5, according to ESPN. The Friars rank near the top in the conference in defensive rebounds per game. Villanova ranks near the bottom. Getting second chance points and offensive rebounds will not be easy, but crucial in getting a victory for the ‘Cats. Villanova and Providence are the two best teams in the conference in taking care of the basketball. Every possession will be decisive so taking care of the basketball has to be on the minds of both teams.
In one of the most anticipated matchups of the entire season, Villanova defeated Providence 89-84 at the Dunk. The intensity, aggressiveness and physicality matched a game that you would see in an NCAA tournament game. Villanova was led in the game by Collin Gillespie who went off for 33 points that included five three-pointers. Justin Moore also added 19 with four three-pointers of his own. Brandon Slater also had a solid game and put in 13.
The Friars had four players with double-digit points. The scoring was balanced but Nate Watson led all scorers with 20.
It was a higher scoring game than most expected. I have a feeling Jay Wright is going to drill the players to play more aggressively on defense this time around. 84 points was the most points the Wildcats have given up in a regulation game this season. I would not say the Wildcats got lucky with the win because they deserved it. However, it is rare to win a game when you give up that many points. I predict the ‘Cats to hold Providence under 65 points in this one.
Final home game
It is spring break for Villanova students, but expect them to fill up the Finn anyway. This contest against Providence will be the last at home for some players in the blue and white.
Collin Gillespie has put his heart and soul into this program for the last five years. He has grown as a player every year and his leadership skills have flourished at ‘Nova. Collin, thank you for everything you have done for Villanova Basketball.
Jermaine Samuels has been a rock for this program and should be recognized for his efforts. Although criticized at times, this team would not be 2nd in the Big East if they did not have him. Jermaine, thank you for your efforts to Villanova Basketball.
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree gave the ‘Cats minutes when they needed them the most earlier in the season. Cosby-Roundtree put the team first, unretired, and gave the ‘Cats a quality big man presence when the bench was short. Dhamir, thank you for your contributions to Villanova Basketball.
Seniors Caleb Daniels, Brandon Slater, and Kevin Voigt were all honored on Senior Day before the game against Georgetown. All three have their extra year of eligibility so it is possible that all three return for the ‘Cats. However, if this is the last time we see Caleb, Brandon, and/or Kevin, thank you for your commitment to the program!
Because this is the last home game until November, expect the Finn to be rocking Tuesday night. The ‘Cats would love a win to strengthen their resume and finish the season 12-1 at home.