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PREVIEW: #6 Villanova at Pennsylvania

Big Five play continues for the Wildcats

Harvard v Pennsylvania Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

How to Watch:

Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Time: 7:00pm EST

Venue: The Palestra - Philadelphia, PA


Streaming: WatchESPN

Betting Odds

Spread: UPENN: +16.5 (-105) | NOVA: -16.5 (-115)

Total: 139.5

via: Action Network

The Villanova Wildcats (4-2) are set to return to the Palestra to face the University of Pennsylvania (3-6) in a true road contest on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats will be coming into this contest after handily defeating LaSalle University this past Sunday in wire-to-wire fashion. As for the Quakers, they will look to pick up their second win against Villanova in the past three seasons.

I would be remiss to write an article about the Penn Quakers without first talking about the story of Jelani Williams. After suffering three consecutive ACL tears and a canceled 2020-21 season, Jelani, a fifth-year senior, played in his first collegiate home game this season. 1,795 days removed from his first ACL tear, the 23 year old now leads the Quakers in steals per game with 1.1 a contest, while also posting 7.3 points and 4.3 rebound on average, respectively. Williams story is one of strength, resilience, and perseverance and one that should be shared for all of the college basketball world to see.

Aside from Jelani Williams, the Quakers are led by sophomore guard Jordan Dingle, who leads the team in points (19.3) and assists (3.3) by a fairly large margin. Dingle was a two-star guard coming out of high school and his only offer was to the University of Pennsylvania. Since committing, Dingle has really found his rhythm with the Quakers and is an instrumental piece to their game plan. The Quakers were picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League this year and although the have not started the year strong, they are also the only team in the Ivy League to face three ranked opponents in their first ten games (Florida State, Arkansas, Villanova). These games against ranked opponents will only help the Quakers push towards a conference title and hopefully we will see them in March.

As for the Wildcats, they will be coming into this game after comfortably defeating LaSalle on Sunday night. Possibly the biggest story out of that game however, was the resurgence of Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. Dhamir was taken off the school’s basketball roster just two months ago after the program announced he would remain on the team (and on scholarship) but adjust to an ‘off-the-court role’ moving forward. Now suddenly, Cosby-Roundtree is back on the court and, if healthy, could be a vital part of the rotation moving forward. Villanova’s biggest weakness is obviously their depth. Both games they have lost were against top five teams and in both of those games they led by double digits with under ten minutes to go. With the addition of Cosby-Roundtree into the rotation and the imminent return of five-star Bryan Antoine, Villanova will look like a whole new team come tournament time.

What is not to love about this matchup if you love Big 5 basketball? Villanova has had trouble with teams coming off an off-season like Howard, and the Quakers have upset the Wildcats as recently as 2019. Speculation aside, I do believe this game will look much like Villanova’s contest with LaSalle and hope that we get to see some more minutes from rotation players like Trey Patterson, Jordan Longino and Nnanna Njoku.

My Prediction: 85-69 Villanova