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Preview: #14 Villanova take on future Big East member UConn

Gillespie, Bey look to lead the Wildcats past the calmest of the Hurley family

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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Preview:

Survive and advance has been the mantra for the Villanova Wildcats this season. 6 of their last 8 games they have won by less than 10 points, regardless if their home or away. However, this tough mentality for such a young team will help mold them to be a good team on the road. From their last game against a stout DePaul team that forced overtime, Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey and Jermaine Samuels led the way, as they are the older starters. Their production is absolutely vital for a win against any team.

Another thing to note regarding the youth of Villanova: they are starting to get better and better minutes. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore have been the standouts, but I expect as time moves on that Bryan Antoine will be rotated in to get him comfortable.

UConn is not a pushover in any way, shape or form. The 10-6(1-3 in AAC) Huskies are scrappy, having pushed Xavier to the limit in a 75-74 loss, and only losing by 3 to #16 Wichita State. They also have good wins over Florida and a blowout win against Miami. Coach Dan Hurley has this Huskies team playing small ball and fast. Although an injury to starter Tyler Polley will hurt them, Sid Wilson and Isaiah Walley and start in a pinch. What allowed UConn to keep it close in their lose to Wichita State was the Full Court Press. UConn is not great in half court offense, so expect them to try and force Gillespie into turning the ball over early. UConn in defensive efficiency is ranked top 50 according to Kenpom. UConn has a lot of size in their starting lineup, with Josh Carlton and Akok Akok being 6-11 and 6-9 respectively, which will give Villanova some trouble.

Where I think Villanova will have their advantage is beyond the arc. Bey, Gillespie and Colin Swider are all ranked nationally for their 3 point percentage, with Bey being the best of the trio. Considering recent performances of Bey, i would not be shocked if he exploded again for a career high. I mentioned size as a benefit for UConn, however that really only applies for their frontcourt. Almost all of Villanova is 6-5 or taller, so there are plenty of opportunities for guards posting up in their matchups. This applies to both guard spots and the SF spot.

I expect Villanova to to do well against the full court press UConn will use. I think if Saddiq Bey gets going early and opens up the offense, UConn will have to defend the arc more and will open up lanes for Jermaine Samuels and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.