After going unbeaten in the first four games of the season, the Villanova Wildcats head to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the annual NIT Preseason Tip-Off.
Their first round matchup is against the Stanford Cardinal of the Pac-12 Conference. Here's how you can watch the game, a little gambling info, and three things to watch for.
How to watch, listen or stream
Game Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Streaming is available via the WatchESPN app where available.
Odds: Villanova opened as a 15.5 point favorite on OddsShark. Elsewhere they can be had for 16 or 16.5 points.
Records ATS: Villanova is unbeaten ATS thus far, going 3-0 this season, while Stanford is 0-3. Something's gotta give, right?
O/U: The O/U opened at 144. Elsewhere, O/U's include 146 and 146.5
Moneylines: Villanova moneylines can be found at -1600, -3000, -1850, and -1749. Stanford's, meanwhile, can be had at +1276, +1175, +1200, and +1190. Take your chances.
1. The ability to start well: In two of their first four games, Villanova has struggled to get off to a hot start and relied on late first and early second half surges to defeat Akron and Nebraska. Facing Stanford, one of the better shooting teams in the nation, it may be imperative that Villanova make and defend shots early in order to assure a victory. As talented as Villanova may be, they can not rely on Josh Hart to score 15 points once more knowing that Stanford may be their strongest test in this early part of the season.
2. Villanova's defense vs. Stanford's offense: Ranked 4th in defensive and 7th in offensive efficiency (According to kenpom.com), Villanova has dominated teams on both sides of the ball. Playing against a Stanford team that averages 79 points per game on 50 percent shooting, Villanova's defense will need to get out on the perimeter and shut down Marcus Allen, Dorian Pickens, and the other Cardinal shooters.
That said, Stanford does not have a one-faceted offensive approach. They come at defenses through the post via Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey. The latter tends to play a larger role on defense compared to offense, averaging 3.0 blocks per game. Travis has been dominant on the offensive end, picking up the slack for the defensive-minded Humphrey. He has scored 14.8 points per game on 64.9 percent shooting.
Villanova needs to play well shutting down the Cardinal shooters and their post play if they want to reach the NIT championship,
3. Josh Hart's offensive dominance: As the Big East Sixth Man of the Year a season ago, many predicted that guard Josh Hart would enter Villanova's starting lineup taking the place of Darrun Hilliard as the Wildcats premier scorer. Needless to say, he has taken over that role and shined. Hart leads Villanova with 16.5 points per game and is second in rebounding with an average of 6.8 boards. He is also shooting 45 percent from deep, almost matching his 46 percent from last year. Facing Stanford, Hart may need to step up once again for Villanova.