These two Big East foes are long time rivals who last met in the Big East Tournament when the Pirates handed the Wildcats to their first of two disappointing loses in March of 2014. Sterling Gibbs, who provided the game winning shot last year against the 'Cats, returns fresh off a 25 point, 8 assist showing in the Pirates 11-point win over No. 15 St. John's.
The Wildcats are coming off a 12-point win against Butler that was never really a close game. The Wildcats played impressive defense and are beginning to look like a team that may contend for a National Title come April. Kris Jenkins scored an important 11 points while Ryan Arcidiacono went off for 15 of his own. Villanova comes in looking to set the mark for their best start in school history. In order to do so, the Wildcats are going to have to overcome their toughest test yet as the Pirates boast a bevy of top talent and two strong bigs in Angel Delgado and Brandon Mobley down low. The Pirates have an RPI of 15 while the Wildcats sit at No. 5.
It'll be interesting to see how much damage Delgado and Mobley can do against the Wildcats inside. They are tremendous rebounders who know how to score. The Wildcats haven't faced a combo like them all year and they could prove to be a handful underneath, especially when Daniel Ochefu is not on the floor. Look for Daryl Reynolds to get some time today to add height, interior defense and rebounding. On the outside, the matchup of guards will be nothing less than a spectacle.
Both teams play a number of guards who have the ability to score and defend. For the Pirates, they need Jaren Sina, Khadeen Carrington and Sterling Gibbs to play hard and find a way to score against Nova's high pressure defense. It will be interesting to see how Dylan Ennis matches up with Sterling Gibbs. Gibbs will need to figure out how to overcome Ennis's strength and athleticism. This game will be a test for the Wildcats but they have a bit of a reprieve after the Pirates lost freshman Issiah Whitehead to a stress fracture. A strong performance by the Pirates could get them into the Top 25 next week.