How to Watch
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Villanova -4.5
Moneyline: Villanova -198 | Providence +166
There will be one question on everyone’s mind when Providence hosts Villanova Saturday afternoon: how will the Cats look without Collin Gillespie?
Villanova’s floor general suffered a torn MCL in the first half against Creighton Wednesday night, and the team will be without him for the remainder of the season. Gillespie averaged 14 points per game and led the team with 4.6 assists per game. Now, Jay Wright will be tasked with finding his replacement in the lineup.
Gillespie was a steady force at the point for Villanova when they defeated Providence earlier this season. He had 15 points and 6 assists, both team highs.
Jay Wright will likely turn to some combination of sophomore Justin Moore and Tulane-transfer Caleb Daniels to run the point in Gillespie’s absence. Daniels averaged 3.3 assists per game leading the Green Wave offense, and Moore has had 3.1 per game helping Gillespie in the backcourt. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl can handle point duties as well, and Jermaine Samuels led the Wildcats with 7 assists last time out after Gillespie left the game. Jay Wright has options, but he has just this one game to figure out the best ones before the Big East Tournament.
The Friars defense held Villanova to just 24 first-half points in their first meeting. Then, the Cats exploded for 47 in a dominant second frame. For Providence to have a chance at the upset, they’ll need to recapture that defensive energy.
Ed Cooley, known around the Big East for his stingy defenses, has had difficulty getting those performances consistently out of his team this season. The Friars held Xavier to 68 and DePaul to 47 in February, but allowed 81 points to St. John’s on Wednesday night. 51 of those came in the second half.
It was defense that led to Providence’s upset win at the Wells Fargo Center just over a year ago. Villanova scored just 54 points that afternoon, including a season-low 18 in the first half. They shot 5 of 30 from deep. It was the same story in 2018 when the Friars held Villanova to 3 of 20 from beyond the arc in the Valentine’s Day stunner. And when the Wildcats lost last Saturday at Butler, they hit just two shots on 27 attempts from 3-point land.
The game plan for Ed Cooley is clear; run Villanova off the 3-point line and frustrate the offense. Equipped with the best perimeter defense in the conference and playing against an offense without it’s best passer, the Friars will have opportunities to stymie the Big East’s best offense.