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Villanova Basketball Game Preview: Georgetown Hoyas

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Conference play opens up in D.C. on Friday night.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a huge road win at Texas, the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats (4-1) open up Big East with another road game Friday night at Georgetown (2-2).

After being shocked at home by Navy on December 1st, the Georgetown Hoyas are coming off two strong performances, the most recent being a 32 point win over Coppin State on Tuesday night.

Friday’s game has been moved to 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on FS1.

Familiarity in an Unfamiliar World

It’s been quite a unique start to this college basketball season. It’s Dec. 11, and Villanova still hasn’t played a home game! Between the bubbles, changing schedules, and lack of fans, the season will have a foreign feel all year, but there will be a sense of normalcy on Friday night, with a familiar opponent and on a familiar network.

Despite only playing five games, Friday night marks the opening of the conference season. It’s hard to determine how the rest of the season will go, but it’s a fair bet that a Big East champion will be crowned at some point, and we know how much Jay Wright wants that to be the Wildcats. As we know from 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020, conference championships are won by finding a way to get it done on the road. Although Georgetown is currently the lowest rated Big East team in KenPom, a conference season-opening win on the road against a rival will go a long way in the pursuit of a championship.

Strengths Matched

Villanova has displayed a number of strengths through the first five games, but the two most obvious advantages they have in most matchups are experience and size in the backcourt. On Friday, Georgetown will be able to match Villanova in both areas.

The Wildcats’ rotation includes five upperclassmen, and two very experienced sophomores. On most nights, that will give them an advantage. However, Georgetown is one of the older teams in the country, with five seniors playing big minutes despite the roster shakeup a year ago. Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett are familiar names that are in their fourth years at Georgetown. Blair leads the team with 20 points per game, and Pickett is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds, after dropping a 19-point, 18-rebound double-double on Tuesday. Georgetown also added three graduate transfers in Jalen Harris from Arkansas, Donald Carey from Siena, and Chudier Bile from Northwestern State.

Georgetown also will be able to match Villanova’s size on the perimeter. Caleb Daniels and Justin Moore in particular have had success muscling opponent guards in the paint so far this season, but veterans like Blair, Carey and Pickett will be up to the challenge. It will be interesting to see how Villanova adjusts. Using high ball screens or isolating Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in order to exploit sophomore center Qudus Wahab may be more viable ways to initiate offense.

Fresh Wounds

March 7, 2020 might feel like it was five years ago, but it was the most recent Big East game for Villanova and it ended in dramatic fashion with a 70-69 win at Georgetown. Villanova opened the game on a 17-2 run but was outplayed the rest of the way and trailed 69-65 with a minute to play. A last second three point play from Jermaine Samuels allowed Villanova to escape and grab a share of the Big East title. Although the roster has been overhauled, Pickett and Blair played all 40 minutes in the game and certainly haven’t forgotten the upset that got away.

Pickett in particular had his way in that game, scoring 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, before fouling out on that final play. At 6-9 with a smooth jumper, he will provide a matchup challenge for Villanova. Jermaine Samuels will likely get the initial assignment, but all of the Wildcats will need to be up to the challenge on switches throughout the night, making shots difficult and keeping him off the offensive glass.