With the Big East regular season title almost out of reach, Villanova still has to play for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have been susceptible on the road this season and that will be no different for a trip to Seton Hall. They’ve already fallen three times on the road in Conference play: Butler, Providence and Creighton. The Pirates are hoping to close the season on a nice little run that would mean five-straight wins and it’s more than possible with two home Games this week.
The problem for Seton Hall is that Desi Rodriguez is questionable to play due to a sprained ankle. It managed to win its last two Games on the road without him, but doing so again will be difficult. Rodriguez was the team’s leading scorer in the first meeting with 20 points even though the Pirates lost 92-76. In his place, Myles Cale and Michael Nzei will likely split minutes with the freshman Cale looking able so far.
The next goal for Seton Hall will be to stop ‘Nova from reaching more than 90 points again after hitting 12 threes and making 20-of-34 from two-point range in that first meeting. In all, the Wildcats scored 1.33 points per possession. They lead the nation in offensive efficiency for a reason and with a full roster back in tow, it’s hard to see them losing another Game when its opponent is missing one of its starters.
Statistically, the best path to win for Seton Hall will be to attack the offensive glass as that’s Villanova’s main defensive weakness and one of Hall’s strong suits. OUtside of that, the Pirates just have to hope Villanova struggles to make shots, which is what happened in its recent loss to Creighton.
The Pirates have one of the best rebounders in the Game in Angel Delgado, but it’s likely the Wildcats will focus on limiting him. That job will mostly fall to big man Omari Spellman as he has the size and possibly quickness to deal with Delgado. In the first meeting, Delgado had just nine boards and Villanova actually had three more offensive rebounds than Seton Hall.
But with Rodriguez out, the Pirates don’t have an advantage at any position and even if he did play, that’s still not an advantage against Mikal Bridges. Jalen Brunson is an offensive problem for Myles Powell, who is used mostly as a three-point shooter. Khadeen Carrington struggled to do much in that first Game and is the guy they need to really come through. It’s also worth noting Phil Booth didn’t play in the first meeting so that gives Villanova yet another option off the bench.
With or without Rodriguez, this will be a hard Game for Seton Hall to win. The teams to beat Villanova usually thrive defensively and get hot from deep. Powell is the only guy that shoots well from three for the Pirates and Rodriguez is the only other decent shooter on the team and he’s still at just 38 percent. Put it all together and that’s not a great recipe to upset the Wildcats.
Our Pick – Villanova -6