Villanova Wildcats center Daniel Ochefu has been absent from the lineup of the reigning, defending two-time regular season champions of the BIG EAST for their last two games.
Despite the absence of their senior big man, whom is averaging 9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and the conference's leader in DRtg (82.1), 'Nova went 2-0 in the games where Ochefu was absent. To their credit, they dispatched St. John's Sunday afternoon and Creighton on Wednesday night.
As fate would have it, it appears that Villanova may be shorthanded again heading into this Saturday.
Delaware County Times writer Terry Toohey, who was the original source of the news of Ochefu's concussion he suffered last Friday at practice, wrote Thursday that the status of the big man was 'uncertain':
Ochefu’s status for Saturday’s game at Providence remains up in the air. He continues to go through the concussion protocol, Wright said. However, if there are any symptoms he has to start the protocol all over again.
At the surface, this is pretty major. The Wildcats will head to Providence to take on the No. 11-ranked Friars and superstar guar Kris Dunn who are seeking a season sweep of the Wildcats. Remember, PC knocked off Villanova two weeks ago at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in an overtime tilt that may as well have been an instant classic.
How Villanova has played without their star center is a positive, though. Darryl Reynolds and Kris Jenkins have stepped up in their roles down low for the Wildcats, the latter especially. Jenkins put up 22 points in his team's romp over Creighton on Wednesday night, an performance so impressive he was deemed 'MVP' of the game via KenPom.com.What's more is Villanova's opponent could be shorthanded as well. Providence forward Ben Bentil rolled his ankle in the Friars' loss to DePaul earlier in the week. Thursday, the sophomore from Wilmington, Delaware was listed as 'day-to-day' as he recovers from that injury. If Bentil, who has been on a tear this season as the BIG EAST's biggest breakout star, is absent from the lineup than the Friars will have one half of the best 1-2 punch in the nation absent in a pivotal encounter in Friartown.
Should Ochefu be out of the lineup on Saturday, how the Wildcats perform against another strong team in the league without their star center could go a long way towards finding out where exactly this team lies amongst the best in the nation.