Winners of three straight Big East games, Villanova (13-3) will make a quick trip out of league play on Saturday when it hosts Connecticut (10-6) at Wells Fargo Arena. While the game is the final meeting of a three-game series between the two squads, their time apart will be brief. The Huskies will be joining the Big East for the 2020-21 season meaning the two old rivals will once again do battle twice a year moving forward. As for Saturday, the Huskies enter the game desperate for a marquee road win, while the Wildcats look to keep things rolling leading up into Tuesday’s showdown with Butler.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on…
Moore depth needed off the bench
One of the few negatives during this three-game win streak has been the bench play. The Wildcats bench has averaged just over 7 ppg during that stretch. Depth isn’t exactly a new concern as Brandon Slater, Bryan Antoine, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree have failed to provide any offense this season for Villanova. The more worrying trend is the play of Justin Moore. The talented freshman is the Wildcats’ third leading scorer, but he’s just 5-for-27 from the field over his last three games. Given the lack of scoring depth outside the starters, Villanova needs Moore to get right quickly.
It’s not how you start…but it sort of is
The Wildcats have faced a double-digit deficit in the fist half in two of their last three games. While they have won two of those games, furious comebacks are not a reliable formula for success. In fact in three of team’s last four losses (Marquette and Ohio State this year, Purdue last year), Villanova has laid an absolute egg in the game’s early stages. It’s easy to see how the team’s reliance on the three-point shot could lead to a slow start when shots aren’t falling, so part of the solution may be finding ways for easy buckets. Keep a close eye on how Villanova comes out the gates on Saturday to see if there are any adjustments.
No offense, but UConn can’t score
Things have looked a little ugly lately for the Huskies on the offensive side of the ball. They only have one player averaging double figures in scoring this season (Christian Vital), and the team has failed to crack 70 points in regulation in any league game so far. To make matters worse, junior big man Tyler Polley is out for the year with a torn ACL. The wild card here is James Bouknight, a talented freshman guard who had 19 points earlier this year against Xavier. If UConn can get him and Vital going, they will keep the game close.