In a quest for Villanova’s fourth straight Big East Tournament title, the ‘Cats will face the Hoyas in the quarterfinal game in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Let’s take a look at what to look for in today’s matchup:
Grinding out a rivalry game
The Villanova-Georgetown rivalry is one of the oldest in college basketball history. ‘Nova pulled off one of the biggest underdog stories in the 1985 upset of Georgetown led by Ed Pinckney. (Which still irks Patrick Ewing to this day.) This rivalry matchup has seen some enjoyable basketball to watch and let’s hope today is another great one.
For the third time this season, Jay Wright and the ‘Cats will battle Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas.
In previous matchups this season, Villanova took down Georgetown both times. On December 11th, the ‘Cats took down the Hoyas, 76-63, with a big second half performance in D.C. After Villanova’s COVID pause, Villanova beat Georgetown, 84-74, in early February at the Finneran Pavilion.
Mind you, these two wins came with contributions from both Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore who will not be available for the game on Thursday.
Collin Gillespie, one of the Big East Players of the Year, suffered a season ending injury in an torn MCL, leaving the ‘Cats without one of their top scorers and their main ball handler. With the additional injury to Justin Moore, who suffered a severe ankle sprain, Villanova loses their next best ball handler and another consistent scorer.
The backcourt duo of Gillespie and Moore were two of Villanova’s top three scorers and averaged 14 and 12.7 points per game, respectively.
This game is stacking up to be a full 40 minute grind between these two long time rivals.
By the numbers
This season the Villanova Wildcats are 16-5 while Georgetown is 10-12.
Villanova, known for their “shoot ‘em up and sleep in the streets” game plan, will continue to shoot beyond the arc. Fingers crossed that they fall in MSG.
The ‘Cats have posted a 35.5% shooting for this year averaging just over nine 3-pointers a game. If the shots are not falling, Villanova could have some trouble as Georgetown is a strong rebounding team that will limit any second chance opportunities.
Georgetown, one of the best Big East teams in rebounding, averages around 40 rebounds per game, given that their roster runs deep with skilled big men.
The guard matchups do not seem to be the biggest issue going into today’s game. The battles in the paint between Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Qudus Wahab, as well as Jamorko Pickett, seems to be the highlight to look for.
If Georgetown is able to successfully collapse towards the middle, Villanova will need guards ready for open kick out shots from inside and beyond the arc.
Players to look for
Since the ‘Cats are down two stellar guards, Villanova will need to lean on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Jermaine Samuels, and other members of the team to step up into action. The “next man up” mentality will be put to the test.
Robinson-Earl this season has averaged a team-best 15 points and eight rebounds per game. Jay Wright credits him with doing the little things including rebounding, guarding the other teams best player and even carrying the ball up the floor when necessary. He might need to do even more on Thursday.
Expect big minutes from the likes of Bryan Antoine, Brandon Slater and maybe even Eric Dixon, with the forward depth from Georgetown. Chris Arcidiacono is expected to start.
On the other side of the court, Georgetown has some talent on their end to battle with Villanova. In the win over Marquette, Jahvon Blair led with 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Qudus Wahab also chipped in a solid 15 points and seven rebounds.
Will the Hoyas be able to take advantage of an injury-ridden Villanova for a big quarterfinal upset? Or will Villanova be able to battle the full 40 minutes for a win?
Tune in at 12 p.m. to see Villanova take on Georgetown.