After winning the National Championship last season, the Villanova Wildcats started their title defense in strong fashion on Friday night. Against Lafayette, ‘Nova jumped ahead and never looked back in an 88-48 win. Like always, the Wildcats defense was tough as nails, only allowing 17 points in the first half and they got great offensive support as well.
Overall it was a strong night for Villanova and it was a good warmup for a tough matchup that is heading their way.
Villanova will head to Mackey Arena to take on the Purdue Boilermakers, the 15th-ranked team in the country. Like Villanova, Purdue started their season off strongly on Friday night, cruising past McNeese State 109-65 to pick up their first win of the season. They used a big second half (69 points scored) to pull away from the Cowboys. Star big man Caleb Swanigan had a big day, scoring 23 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in the process. His partner in the front court, Isaac Haas, also dropped 22 points.
This game against ‘Nova will be their first of two big matchups for the Boilermakers during their out of conference schedule. As for ‘Nova’s schedule after this game, they won’t face a ranked team until they play Creighton in conference play.
How to listen or stream
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: 610 Sports WTEL-AM (Villanova)
Live Stream: BTN2Go App
Odds: The opening line has both teams even via OddsShark.
Record ATS: Villanova (1-0) || Purdue (0-0)
O/U: The O/U opened at 149.
3 things to watch for
Can Villanova handle Purdue’s big men?
The combination of 7’2 Isaac Haas and 6’9 Caleb Swanigan bullied McNeese State and can and likely will give Villanova problems on the inside. Swanigan has a solid post game and will be a force on both ends, especially on offense, while Haas is a great rim protector (three blocks against McNeese State) and can finish around the rim (81.8% field goal percentage).
This will be a test for ‘Nova. There is no player on the Wildcats taller than 6’10, which happens to be freshman Dylan Painter. It will be up to senior Darryl Reynolds to step up inside and make up for the loss of Daniel Ochefu. Purdue will have the size advantage and Villanova will have to hope that their outside shooting is on point, because it will be tough to finish around the rim when Haas and Swanigan are on the court.
Battle on the boards
Part of the battle on the inside will be rebounding. Both teams have two very different techniques of team rebounding. Villanova’s is more of a team effort with no player averaging more than Mikal Bridges’s 8.0 per game but they have multiple players who grabbed more than 5 rebounds against Lafayette. The guards are very involved when it comes to rebounding for Villanova. Meanwhile, Purdue relies more on their powerful big men to man the glass. It will be a battle and the team that controls the glass will likely win this game.
Early test for Villanova
Considering they don’t play a ranked opponent until conference play, and even that’s not guaranteed, this is easily the strongest test for the Villanova Wildcats in the nonconference portion of their schedule. Let’s see what this team is made of and if they can make up for the losses of some key seniors. Although this game is early, this could tell a lot about this ‘Nova team.