How to Watch
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Radio: 610 Sports
Bets are On
Villanova is favored by -5, according to OddsShark.
This is the first meeting between the Villanova Wildcats and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The opening game of the Jimmy V Classic has the ingredients to become a classic itself. No. 4 Villanova (8-0) meets no. 12 Gonzaga (7-1) in match-up between two teams with noted offensive efficiency and needed quality wins on their respective schedules.
For Villanova, expect B&B to check-in. Juniors Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are both averaging 17.9 points per game, and have been major orchestrating forces in ‘Nova’s offensive efforts. Brunson, with his commentator-celebrated “cerebral” approach on the court, further leads the Wildcats by shooting 64% on overall field goals, 51% on three-pointers, and 36 assists. Meanwhile, Bridges takes special care to advance Villanova’s defense, averaging 6.3 rebounds and instigating a team-high of 20 steals over the past eight games. Joining Bridges defensively, redshirt freshman Omari Spellman has nailed a team-high 7.9 rebounds and 18 blocks this season.
For Gonzaga, Johnathan Williams leads the Bulldogs’ offense and defense with 15.9 points per game and 6.9 rebounds. Teammate Josh Perkins proves the ‘Zags don’t shy away from three-pointers, as the redshirt junior has made an impressive 54.7% of 3FGs so far this season. On Friday’s game against Villanova’s fellow Big East-er Creighton, freshman Zach Norvell dropped 21 points in the second half. 6’10 sophomore Killian Tillie dually boosts the Bulldogs offensively and defensively, scoring 59.1% of field goals, 6.9 rebounds, and a team-high of 9 blocks.
It’s clear that both teams are evenly drenched in shooting depth, with comparable skill from the perimeter and closer to the glass. In such instances of equivalent offensive artfulness, each team’s defensive presence to secure rebounds and force turnovers to create shot opportunities becomes even more vital. Beyond the in-game metrics, both teams will be eyeing the addition of a win against a ranked opponent. Gonzaga fell to no. 5 Florida in the PK80 semifinals, while Villanova has yet to play against a nationally-ranked team this season. Accordingly, a lucrative “quality” win is on the line, which further ensures a quality basketball game for viewers.