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Villanova vs. Creighton 3-point preview

The 27-2 Wildcats have one final road test left in the 2014-15 regular season. Do they have what it takes to pass it? Chris Novak ponders that, plus more in our preview of the game.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

1. Staying pace with the nation's best

At 27-2 and ranked No. 4 in the latest AP Poll, Villanova is flying right on the radar screen for the selection committee, as well as the rest of the nation. Vying for a No. 1 seed, it's imperative that 'Nova continues to have the success that they have carried with them since the season opener against Lehigh back on November 14. Given that their nonconference strength of schedule is ranked 158th of the 351 teams observed on KenPom, the Wildcats just have to continue to beat the teams in front of them. With that said, of the teams vying for No. 1 seeds, Villanova actually finds themselves in pretty decent company:

Team Kentucky Virginia Arizona Villanova Wisconsin Gonzaga Duke
NCSOS Pyth 96th 177th 168th 158th 36th 45th 110th

The nonconference schedule holds quite a lot of weight come tournament time. With the average ranking being ~113th amongst these seven clubs in this category, the last few scoops in this sundae are of high importance. With Gonzaga losing over the weekend to BYU, and Arizona ascending up the charts, this test against Creighton for Villanova simply has to be aced with flying colors.

2. Playing for pride, and generating a speed bump

The Creighton Bluejays, at 13-16, find themselves in an interesting position. Though their bid for a win over Seton Hall on Saturday was disrupted by the heroics of Angel Delgado, the Bluejays have played remarkably better since netting their first win in conference play back on January 28. Since then, they have alternated wins and losses, including a huge overtime win over Xavier on the 4th of February.

Now, the Jays will host the highly touted 'Cats as well as the aforementioned Muskies in their final two games of the season. The spoiler role is one they could find themselves assuming as the Big East Tournament looms. Havoc is a term that, in basketball, is reserved for VCU and, for wrestling, around Halloween, but make no mistake about it: the Bluejays and their fans would be delighted if they snagged this upset win. They will likely have a rowdy, sellout crowd inside CenturyLink Center Omaha to boot, so who knows what we could possibly expect.

3. Perimeter prowess

Yo dawg, we heard you like 3-point previews. So we put a preview about 3-point shooting in your 3-point preview.

Alright, now that we've cast aside a meme that was popular when I was in high school, thus referencing a show that is a total sham, let's proceed onwards here.

There's a glaring difference between this Villanova team and the ones that have preceded it since the 2010s began. 3-point shooting has been superb this season for 'Nova, coming into this matchup as the 28th best team from the perimeter in the entire country. That mark also leads the conference by nearly three percent over the St. John's Red Storm who, like Villanova, has rewritten their narrative on usually stagnant offense from beyond the arc.

What's most troubling about the 'Cats' prodigious performances from the perimeter is Creighton's deficiencies on defense. The Bluejays are the worst 3-point-defending team in the Big East, giving up, on average, 39.9 percent of attempts from the 3-point line this season.The Jays put on a magnificent performance against Villanova twice last year, and it's entirely possible that if things turn out right, the roles could be reversed in this matchup.

That isn't to say that 'Nova will shoot the daylights out of Creighton, running them off of their home floors. But it is to say that CU's lack of perimeter defense could wind up playing a huge role in this game's outcome.