The Villanova Wildcats are back in action Tuesday night. Following an unsuccessful trip out west against the UCLA Bruins, the Cats are aiming for a bounce-back performance. They welcome the 3-0 Howard Bison to Finneran Pavilion on their home campus. Howard knocked off the Missouri Valley’s Bradley Braves in their last outing, an upset to be certain as the game was on the road in Peoria. Kenny Blakeney’s team is 3-0 for the first time since the start of the 2018-19 season.
How to watch Villanova vs. Howard
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports App
(via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Spread: Villanova -29 | Howard +29
Moneyline: Villanova -3500 | Howard +1500
Howard was picked to finish fifth in the MEAC this upcoming season. The four teams ahead of them all received first-place votes in the preseason poll: Norfolk State, the predicted winner, followed by Morgan State, North Carolina Central, and Coppin State. As of right now though, the Bison and Spartans of Norfolk State are the only unbeaten teams in the MEAC. Additionally, KenPom is projecting the Bison to be 11-3 in conference play now, which would be at the top of the conference.
The Bison feature two players who made it to preseason all-MEAC teams. The first is a familiar name to Big East fans. Dontarius James, a former Xavier Musketeers forward, landed on the Preseason All-MEAC Second Team. James has yet to play this season though, so we’ll see if he sees the floor against the Wildcats on Tuesday. Additionally, big man Steve Settle III made it onto the All-MEAC Third Team in the preseason. Settle is a redshirt sophomore who’s come out of the gate strong. In his first three games, he’s hit double figures twice, including a current season-high of 14 points against Bradley on Saturday.
While they are huge favorites, Villanova will have to almost certainly account for Howard’s 3-point shooting. So far, they’ve made 54.2 percent of their attempts from deep. They’re also shooting the ball from deep a lot, averaging a 3-point rate (3PA/FGA) of 48 percent, 45th-best in the nation. Yeah, the opponents can certainly be considered here. Yeah, it’s early in the season. But hot starts are hot starts. Villanova would prove wise to not get caught lacking from the perimeter. This especially rings true when you consider what happened against UCLA. In the second half, the Bruins shot 40 percent from 3, which helped drive them to send the game to OT and win it.
All that said, this is certainly a game that Villanova should win with relative ease. They have a big game coming up this weekend against the SEC’s Tennesee Volunteers. The idea would be for them not to look ahead to that, and Jay Wright teams typically have plenty of discipline. So, I’d expect the Cats to win big here. Though it will be fun to see how Howard plays, as I do think they’ve been a very good low-major squad so far this year.