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PREVIEW: #4 Villanova at #2 UCLA

Villanova will face a tough test in the early stages of the season

Mount St. Mary’s v Villanova Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

How to Watch:

Date: Friday, November 12, 2021

Time: 11:30pm EST (yes, you read that right)

Venue: Pauley Pavillion - Los Angeles, CA

TV: ESPN2 (Dan Shulman & Jay Bilas)

Streaming: WatchESPN

Betting Odds

Spread: UCLA: -4.5 (-107) | NOVA: +4.5 (-113)

Moneyline: UCLA: -195 | NOVA +155

Total: 138.5

via: Barstool Sportsbook

Plug those coffee pots back in NovaNation, we are in for a late one tonight.

The Villanova Wildcats (1-0) are set to head out west and take on the number two team in the country, the UCLA Bruins (1-0) this Friday night at Pauley Pavilion.

This matchup is sure the be the game of the week in the Big East, and maybe even the country. The Bruins will look to even at the all time record between the teams at three wins a piece, while Villanova will look to notch its fourth straight win against UCLA.

The UCLA Bruins are currently the number two team in the country and an early-but-popular pick to cut down the nets in April. Last season, UCLA made it to the Final Four as an eleven seed, and they were one lucky bounce away from taking Gonzaga to overtime in that game. This year, they will return all ten rotation players that led them to that Final Four berth just a season ago. Eleven of UCLA’s 15 players are from the Southern California area, or attended high school there, which tends to be a good recipe for great chemistry on a talented team. Led by junior shooting guard Johnny Juzang the Bruins boast six different players that averaged double digit points per game last season, as well as six different players who averaged over 5.4 rebounds a game. They are a well balanced, deep, and experienced team that will try to bully Villanova’s forwards in the paint all night.

As for Villanova, they will be coming into this game after securing a comfortable victory just three days ago. They will now turn their attention to a UCLA team who head coach Jay Wright called ‘as good as anybody in the country’. In Villanova’s last game, they won the game by a wide margin but lost the battle of points in the paint, 30-20 favoring Mount Saint Mary’s. While ‘bully-ball’ is not exactly Villanova’s M.O., they will need to clean up their interior defense and rebounding, as UCLA certainly has the talent and depth to exploit that. The keys to victory for Villanova will be securing the paint, as well as limiting turnovers and empty possessions against UCLA’s stingy defense. Look for Justin Moore and Brandon Slater to be the catalysts of this offense while Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels continue to contribute leadership, guidance, and experience to the younger guys on the team.

This game is going to be electric. While this is the only time these two will meet in the regular season, do not be surprised if we see another meeting between these powerhouses in March. Villanova will need to bring their ‘A’ game to this contest and even that may not be enough this early in the season to slay the Bruins. For UCLA, this will also be a great test for them early in the season. They will answer a lot of internal questions and have a chance to add to their resume early. I foresee a competitive game but in the end, I do think the home team edges out a slight victory.

My Prediction: 72-68 UCLA