Villanova is on a run of Four-straight home Games and it’s unlikely it’ll be stopped in a quest to once again win the Big East. The Wildcats are positioned to keep winning until they hit mid-February, which features Four road trips in a span of five possible Games. Seton Hall would like a big road win on its resume, but this probably isn’t the spot to get it.
The Pirates have road wins at Louisville, Butler and DePaul, but they were also blown out at Marquette and Creighton. They’ve been all over the place and that’s not a recipe for success against what is one of the most consistent teams in the country in ‘Nova. These teams met three times last year with Villanova winning them all, 76-46 at home, 92-70 on the road and 55-53 in the Big East Tournament.
That third matchup is what Seton Hall will try and do again, but nothing points to the top-rated offense in the country scoring only 55 points. The Wildcats Scoreclose to 90 points in almost every home Game and this one should be no different. Yes, the Pirates rank solid defensively and are third in the Conference in efficiency, but they’ve also allowed at least 80 points in three of their last Four road Games. Betting on that to be the difference will be tough. Instead, Seton Hall will need a great offensive effort against a Villanova defense that ranks middle of the Conference in efficiency. The problem is that the Wildcats have been a lot better in the last couple weeks, allowing 71 points or less in six of their last seven Games.
The Pirates have Four guys that can take over Games, but it’s the other players that will decide this Game. If Ismael Sanogo or Michael Nzei can do a little more down low, that would help. again, that’s a hard thing to bet on. Desi Rodriguez, Myles Powell, Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado are often Seton Hall’s entire offense and the only Four guys that average more than 5.1 points per Game. The goal will be for them to match what Villanova’s guys can do.
The problem is that not many can match up with Villanova, which is why it only has one loss. Led by Jalen Brunson (19.5 ppg, 5.0 apg), the Wildcats have Four and sometimes five guys on the floor at a time that can shoot from distance. Mikal Bridges has been a difference maker as a junior. In addition to being a great defender due to length, Bridges is scoring 16.7 points per Game and making more than 42 percent of his threes. Even without third-leading scorer Phil Booth, the Wildcats have still scored with ease as Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall have played a few more minutes. Throw in freshman big man Omari Spellman and this team has tools at every spot on the floor.
Defensively, it’ll be hard to bet on Seton Hall to stop this juggernaut, but if guys are hitting shots, this offense could keep things tight. Delgado has the big task of winning his battle against Spellman in the paint. Powell, the team’s best shooter, will need to hit his shots from deep. If not, the Pirates will have to rely on Carrington to do a little too much and Rodriguez is a guy that will force bad shots, which isn’t a good idea against Mikal Bridges.
Villanova lost Booth, but still has numerous options that have stepped up. The Wildcats are at home and will be hard to bet against, no matter what team is on the other end of the cOurt.
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