The cat and dog fight is back on Tuesday — the Villanova Wildcats (21-6) and UConn Huskies (19-7) face off for their second meeting of the season in an AP top 25 matchup. It’s been just upwards of two weeks since Villanova’s 85-74 victory over UConn at the Wells Fargo Center.
The last matchup between these two was nothing short of eventful: a technical foul on the entire Huskies bench, a deja vu moment of horror for Nova Nation as Colin Gillespie injured his foot, and a altercation between Caleb Daniels and multiple Connecticut players. Round two should be just as intense, as both teams look to continue to bolster their tournament resumes with every chance they get.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night. The game will be on Fox Sports 1.
40 minutes of Villanova concentration
Villanova had multiple close calls against the Hoyas during rivalry week, with Georgetown cutting the lead down to one point several times in the late first half.
Against a much better UConn team in enemy territory, Jay Wright will make sure that their opponent doesn’t get within striking distance again. Villanova is known for being a “closer team,” where they play their best basketball in the second half of the game - it’s one of the staples of “Villanova Basketball.” That shouldn’t stop here. UConn has shown throughout the season to be a team that lives and dies on speed, athleticism, and agility. If Villanova can grind them out like last time, they should be able to handle the Huskies without a worry.
Let the dogs run wild
Since their loss to Jay Wright’s squad, the Huskies have won four of their last five. They’re coming off an impressive 72-61 win over a still very solid Xavier team — a team win that saw three different UConn players score 15 or more points.
UConn’s secret to being competitive in the Big East this season has been not just been their athletic ability, but also their versatility with who they can run their offense through on any given night. If they wanna go fast and move the ball around, they can go to guard RJ Cole, who has led the team in scoring up until this point with 16.2 points a game. If they want to focus on scoring in the paint, they can dish it out to Adama Sanogo instead.
The Wildcats got Sanogo in early foul trouble, which Jay Wright will try and repeat this time around. Expect Dan Hurley to run the offense through Cole and try to win the game with speed.
Eric Dixon had a career performance in his last show against UConn putting up 24 points and 12 rebounds. Villanova out-rebounded UConn 28-20 the last time they met - and it wouldn’t be surprising if he has a repeat performance, especially if the Huskies’ front line gets in early foul trouble again.
Villanova continues to lead Division I men’s basketball in free throw percentage at 83.3% - Dixon amongst others getting to the foul line will be critical to creating separation down the stretch for the Wildcats.
The Dixon vs. Sanogo and Isaiah Whaley matchup will be just as critical as it was last time. With Gillespie coming off a career-high 31 point performance against Providence, extra attention will be paid to him and will allow Dixon more opportunities in the post.
Expect Coach Hurley to use the 1-3-1 zone look even more so than last time.