Villanova was ranked numero uno in our Pre-Season Power Rankings. They completely outclassed their sole opponent this season, crushing Fairleigh Dickinson 91-54. Nebraska, unranked and expected to finish near the bottom of the Big 10, tuned up Mississippi Valley State by a score of 97-51. It's quite clear that both teams can score, but they do it in very different ways. Villanova has a balanced approach, perhaps tops in the nation, where they can slash, shoot and post up to destroy opponents in various ways. With Daniel Ochefu down low for the Wilcats, Arcidiacano and Brunson running the back court and Kris Jenkins spotting up for three from the wing, there isn't really any way to shut down the powerful Wildcat offense. On the Nebraska side, you've got Shavon Shields, Kansas transfer Andrew White III, Benny Parker and Tai Webster - all capable shooters from deep. Here's three things to look for in this intriguing matchup:
1. Ochefu Down Low
Whether it's on offense or defense, Daniel Ochefu is a phenomenal hoopstar. In the inaugural game of the 2015-16 season, Ochefu was able to score 16 points, grab 10 rebounds and piledrive 2 shots into oblivion. Mind you, this was only in 20 minutes of play. Nebraska is going to have a really difficult time trying to stymie this behemoth of a post presence as they only have one player in their starting 5 above 6'7. Most of Nebraska's starters are 3-shooting wing types, who can certainly cause pressure but cannot go toe-to-toe with the big man down low. If Ochefu can control the paint, which I'm betting he most certainly will, the Wildcats will have a distinct advantage.
2. Nebraska and Offense
Last year, Nebraska was able to utilize a stingy defense to force opponents to play down to their level. Unfortunately, their offense was not so good. It appears, through one game, that the Cornhuskers have turned that on it's head as they were able to shoot 45% from 3 (10-22) and 54% from the field (31-57). Nebraska's leading scorer, Andrew White III, led the way with 18 points while only playing 16 minutes. Included in those 16 minutes on the floor were 2 blocked shots and 2 steals. He's clearly the anchor of this team and if he can get hot the Wildcats may be in trouble.
3. The Pavilion
Nebraska lost 14 of its 18 games last season while on the road. Villanova, on the other hand, went 17-0 at home last season. The Pavilion will be jam packed with fans and students tonight, something Nebraska saw last year when they went to play on the road in Madison, Wisconsin (where they got blown out 70-55). The Wildcats are astronomically good in their own confines while Nebraska appears to have a heaping load of trouble playing teams on the road. History tends to repeat itself in situations like these.