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Friday, February 09, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Villanova @ Seton Hall

February 10, 2007

Villanova, despite being just 4-5 in the conference, is looking strong in their bid for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have very good numbers in the RPI ratings and, in our conference RPI ratings, they have played the toughest schedule to date in the Big East by a healthy margin. Now, they have to make sure they win the games they are supposed to win and that means getting the job done on the road when they make the short trip to the Meadowlands to face Seton Hall on Saturday.

The Pirates are sinking, losing four straight conference match-ups and their lack of depth is taking a major toll on their team. With Mani Messy recently leaving the club, they are down to just Stan Gaines and John Garcia as their lone big men with Grant Billmeier out for the remainder of the season. As it stands, they have Brian Laing usually playing a big forward position and they rotate four additional guards in and out of the line-up, but freshman Eugene Harvey and Laing rarely leave the floor.

Going small might cause match-up problems for many teams, but Villanova seems to be a team that can handle it. With Scottie Reynolds and Mike Nardi in the backcourt and Curtis Sumpter and Will Sheridan in the frontcourt, they can then mix and match with Dante Cunningham, Shane Clark, Bilal Benn, Dwayne Anderson and Reggie Redding to be a very versatile team. The Pirates will try to speed up the Wildcats and pressure their guards, but Villanova will likely turn around and use a series of traps and 3/4 court pressure right back at them to force turnovers with their length and athletic ability at the forward spots.

Villanova is too deep and can score in too many ways for Seton Hall in this one. The Pirates will likely hang with them because of their all out effort, but over the course of 40 minutes, they will have a few droughts where Villanova will just keep on plugging away and in the end, pull away.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Villanova 76 Seton Hall 68


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