The Villanova Wildcats and Providence Friars will square off on Tuesday night at the Pavilion on the campus of Villanova University. It's Senior Night for the Wildcats which means Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston will get the pregame ceremony treatment and the fans and players figure to be riled up. Villanova is coming off a road win at Marquette on Saturday while the Friars haven't played since demolishing DePaul on the road on February 18th. Providence jumped into the top 25 for the second time this season. Their #25 ranking in the AP poll marks the first time the Friars have been ranked in that poll since the final AP poll of the 2004 season.
Matchups, Matchups, Matchups
Providence has struggled this season to matchup with smaller, quicker teams. St. John's gave the Friars fits with their undersized lineups and ultimately swept Providence this season. Normally Providence's size is an advantage but against a Villanova team that leads the Big East in offensive efficiency and is a great ball movement team the Friars will struggle to matchup against the Wildcats. If Providence plays zone defense they run the risk of allowing Villanova to bang the ball around the perimeter to create open looks from the outside and the Wildcats lead the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage at 40.1%. Man-to-man means the likes of LaDontae Henton have to try to defend Pinkston which has proven to be a fool's errand over the years for Henton. Kris Dunn is obviously very talented on defense and Junior Lomomba and Jalen Lindsey have shown good ability on that end of the floor but you also need to be able to score against Villanova as they average a league-best 75.1 points/game. One additional note is that Providence big man Carson Desrosiers is a game-time decision due to a nagging knee injury suffered against DePaul last week.
Dunn, Henton and Who?
A common theme this season for Providence has been that the Friars lack a tertiary scoring option to backup Dunn and Henton. While I have mostly been a proponent of that theory the Friars got 17 points from Tyler Harris in the earlier contest against the Wildcats to go along with Dunn's 17 points and Henton's 23 points. The issue for Providence has been that they need either 1 person or multiple players to step in and make plays or convert on passes from Dunn. They also need a player or players to step up on the defensive end. Providence winning tonight will likely be because a player or players step into that spot behind Dunn and Henton and make the hustle plays and score the basketball.
So Long, Seniors
Hilliard and Pinkston have had very successful individual careers at Villanova and they have also managed to be on successful teams in their years on the Main Line. Hilliard has scored 1,384 career points in a Villanova uniform and is averaging 18 points/game during Villanova's current 8-game winning streak. Pinkston is just 4 boards away from 700 for his career. Once he accomplished that feat he will be the 11th player in school history to score 1,500 points and grab 700 rebounds in his career. Senior night ceremonies are usually emotional and I have no reason to believe that will be any different tonight as Villanova will begin the pregame ceremonies at 6:40pm.
For more on Villanova, check out our friends at VUHoops.com.