The Villanova Wildcats will open up Big 5 play against the Penn Quakers on Tuesday.
For the uninitiated: The Big 5 is a round-robin competition in which schools from the Philadelphia area—Villanova, Penn, La Salle, Temple, and St. Joseph’s—play each other for basketball supremacy within the city.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game Time: Tuesday, November 29, 2016, at 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet via the Ivy League Network
Live Stream: Ivy League Digital Network (with subscription)
Villanova is listed as a 15.5-point favorite over Penn (per Oddsshark).
The Wildcats lead the all-time series against the Quakers, 46-16. Penn has not beaten Villanova since 2002.
What to Watch For
Penn’s Freshman Phenom
6-foot-8, 225-pound forward A.J. Brodeur is already making an impact in his first few games this season. The Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) product isn’t a stereotypical Ivy League recruit. Yes, he got offers from Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale. However, he also got scholarship opportunities at Notre Dame, George Washington, and Davidson.
Brodeur leads the Quakers with a team-high 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Outside of a subpar game against Central Connecticut State in which he shot 2-of-9 and scored only six points, he’s been an efficient scorer and an imposing player inside on both ends of the court.
The 3-point line will be a big x-factor for both teams. The Wildcats and the Quakers both love to shoot the ball from deep. Villanova takes 46.4 percent of its shots from long range, while 42.2 percent of Penn’s shots are from beyond the arc. The Quakers’ perimeter defense will be tested, as almost every player in Villanova’s rotation—besides Darryl Reynolds—can take and make threes. They will need to string along a number of threes on the Wildcat defense in order to stay in the game, but it’s not going to be easy.
Villanova has held three of its six opponents to shoot below 20 percent from the 3-point line this season. Caleb Wood, Matt Howard, and Jackson Donahue take a majority of Penn’s shots from deep, they will need to get it going early and consistently in order to give the Quakers any chance of winning.
The Quakers don’t get to the free throw line that much. According to KenPom, they rank 337th in free throw rate, with 23.7. When they do get to step up to the line, their numbers aren’t worthy of showing off. As a team, they have converted only 58.2 percent of their foul shots.
Through four games, they are 32-of-55 from the free throw line. Brodeur and Howard combine for 14-of-23 misses at the charity stripe, nearly two-thirds of misses come from these two alone.