The Teams: Villanova (17-2, 5-1 Big East) vs. Georgetown (11-8, 3-5 Big East)
The Date: Monday, January 27
The Time: 9:00pm ET
The Location: Verizon Center; Washington, DC
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: CBS Sports Radio 610 (Villanova) or 980 ESPN Radio (Georgetown)
The Story of the Season (Villanova)
The success of a season is ultimately based on how many wins that a team can accumulate. Many times though, a team’s ability to respond after a loss can make or break a season.
After an embarrassing loss to the Creighton Bluejays last Monday, The Villanova Wildcats had a chance to respond on Saturday against the Marquette Golden Eagles. The Cats ended up earning a hard-fought 94-85 win in overtime and, for the time being, have seemed to right the ship.
In this most current victory, Nova may have found a true point guard to lead the offense for the rest of the season.
Sophomore Ryan Arcidiacono was dazzling against Marquette, especially in the overtime period. Arcidiacono finished the game with 20 points and 11 assists, the first double-double of his career. He also was able to accomplish all of this without committing a single turnover. In OT he also helped account for 8 of Nova’s 17 points.
Along with a point guard, The Cats may have also found a second scorer to compliment JayVaughn Pinkston.
Senior guard James Bell continued his recent offensive explosion against the Golden Eagles. He accounted for 30 points, a career high, and continued to lead the Nova offense through Pinkston’s recent scoring struggles. Due to his recent outburst over the past month, Bell has now moved his scoring average to 15.1 ppg, a close second on the team behind Pinkston. He may have to pick up the offense once again if Pinkston gets off to another slow start against Georgetown.
The Story of the Season (Georgetown)
Georgetown is in serious need of a pint of ice cream and a solid chick flick at this point in the season.
The Hoyas have already accumulated as many losses (9) this season through 19 games as they did last year through their entire campaign (8). The greatest of Georgetown’s struggles have come this past month, when the team has gone 4-6 including a current 4-game losing streak.
The Hoyas have just had problems all over the court, ranking second last in the Big East in both rebounding and scoring.
The fate of the Hoyas season was essentially sealed the minute that Georgetown lost UCLA transfer Josh Smith for the rest of the season. Up until his suspension, Smith was averaging a career high in minutes, field goal percentage, and points. The Hoyas have been a noticeably different team during his absence, going 1-5 since losing their top big man.
The absence of Smith has left a huge hole that many different players have had to fill. Forwards Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins have been the main options inside, but they will need to have their best game of the season to have any chance of stopping Pinkston. If Pinkston gets going early, Georgetown will have no chance of stopping Villanova’s high-powered offense.
The Players to Keep Your Eyes On:
Villanova: Junior Darrun Hilliard III is only third on the team in scoring average, but he might just be the best offensive threat that Nova has. The reason is because of the offensive consistency that he has provided all season. It would not be farfetched to say that Hilliard has been the most consistent offensive threat all season for the Wildcats. In the 19 games that Villanova has played this season, Hilliard has reached the double-digit plateau in 17 games, the highest rate of any Wildcat. Hilliard could be a major asset not only in this game, but going forward if Pinkston or Bell struggles offensively.
Georgetown: Sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has been one of the only bright spots through this disappointing season for the Hoyas. He came off the bench last season due to the presence of Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. This year has been his coming out season. Smith-Rivera leads the Hoyas with 17.5ppg, which is also fifth in the Big East. With the struggles that Georgetown has had scoring this season, Smith-Rivera will need to have a career game to keep the Hoyas competitive.
The Prediction: If both teams had their best possible lineups out there, then I would say that this would be a competitive game. The Hoyas, though, have a huge hole missing in the middle without Josh Smith, and so far they have not been able to successfully fill it. I expect Pinkston to fully exploit this lack of a dominant big man on the Georgetown side and power the Wildcats to a relatively easy victory.
Villanova 78 Georgetown 62