Providence Looks to Start a New Trend Against the Kyle Neptune-Led Wildcats – Providence Villanova Preview

For the last several years, the Villanova Wildcats have been the class of the Big East (and of college basketball, if we are being honest). Jay Wright ran a Top 5 program, and Providence often succumbed to the juggernaut that was the Wildcats. Whether it be in conference games or at the Big East Tournament, Villanova has always been the team that found a way to defeat the Friars and stunt their progress. Even last year, with Providence winning the Big East, Villanova went 2-0 against PC. It’s a hurdle that PC has continually struggled to get over.

With Wright no longer at the helm and Providence surging once again this year, Sunday’s game is absolutely a statement game. Not because Villanova is at the top of the Big East, however. It is a game where Providence needs to exorcise the demons and show that this is a new era of PC basketball with a dominant win against the Wildcats. PC needs to show that wilting to a Villanova team is a thing of the past and that they are now the class of the Big East.

We break down the Wildcat team and what Providence needs to do to emerge victorious on Sunday.

Villanova Wildcat Team Overview

10-10 on the season, 4-5 in Big East

Caleb Daniels – 16.6 points/game (4th in Big East), 4.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 35% from 3

Eric Dixon – 15.8 points/game, 6.6 rebounds, 36% from 3

Cam Whitmore – 12.5 points/game, 5.2 rebounds

Brandon Slater – 11.1 points/game, 5.2 rebounds

Points/Game70.7 (9th in Big East)78.8 (4th in Big East)
Rebounds/Game31.7 (10th)40.0 (1st)
Free Throws Attempted345 (8th)501 (1st)
Free Throw %83.2 (1st)73.5 (6th)
Three Pointers Attempted523 (2nd)380 (Last)
Three Point Field Goal %33.5 (8th)33.9 (7th)
Assists/Game11.3 (Last)14.3 (6th)
Blocks/Game1.30 (Last)4.86 (1st)

Keys to Game

Will Justin Moore Return? Those are the murmurs we’ve been hearing. If Moore does return, it’ll be interesting to see how much he plays. A healthy Moore is a First Team All-Big East Player. It’s not fair to assume Villanova is getting that version of Moore back though right away. Even if he does play, I doubt it’d be for more than 10 minutes. His return shouldn’t be something Providence is worried about, beyond the fact that it’ll potentially galvanize the Wildcat team.

Bynum’s Minutes – Bynum only played 11 minutes, but was instrumental in closing the first half deficit against Butler. I’d expect to see Bynum’s minutes slightly increased to 15-18 minutes against Villanova. In those 11 minutes, he had 4 points and 3 assists.

His return to the Friars gives Cooley a true point guard on the floor, another threat from deep, and allows Breed to play his natural off-ball guard position. Friar fans are going to realize just how important Bynum is to this team moving forward, and I hope Cooley continues to gradually ease him in.

Forget the Name on the Jersey – This is a mental hurdle game. If you take away the fact that you are playing Villanova, this Wildcat team objectively is incredibly average. They are below average in points, rebounds, drawing fouls, three point field goal percentage, blocks, and steals. If this was any other Big East team, all Friar fans would be expecting a double digit victory with ease. The issue is that it is Villanova, and they’ve had Providence’s number. Providence needs to show the stage isn’t too big for them and take care of Villanova on the road.

Name of the Game on Defense is Discipline – The one area where Villanova excels is from the foul line. They don’t draw a ton of fouls, but when they do, they make the opponent pay. Providence needs to stay disciplined on defense. What do we know about Villanova? They are excellent at pump-fake/head-fake. Dixon is a master of the multiple head fakes until he gets his man off the ground. From there, he draws a foul or finishes with ease. Where Villanova has a lot of trouble is if you stay grounded, don’t leave your feet, and force them to make a contested shot. Look at their assist numbers. It’s outrageously low for any Big East team, let alone masters of the ball movement in Villanova. If Providence can avoid getting too eager, I like their chances in this one. You can’t gift a team like Villanova with free points on the charity stripe.

Name of the Game on Defense, Part 2: Carter on Daniels – Devin Carter is arguably the top defender in the Big East. Daniels is arguably one of the top scorers in the Big East. I’d put Carter on Daniels and just tell him to stick to him like glue. I like Carter’s odds in that match-up, and it forces Villanova to have somebody else from the perimeter beat them. They don’t have the weapons like usual to combat Daniels having an off game.

Hopkins has a Chance to Make Serious Money – We all have to accept that Hopkins may go pro after this year. This is the type of game where he can cement a First Round Pick. Cam Whitmore came into this year as a potential lottery pick. He has seen his stock rise as well to a now potential top-10 pick. If Hopkins can show out on the offensive end against Whitmore (maybe Slater guards him in spurts), he’ll raise quite a few eye brows with NBA scouts. This will be a fun one to watch, and I anticipate we see a very aggressive version of Hopkins.


BOC: I need to push the scars from the past aside and objectively look at this game. They don’t have a killer point guard like Gillespie, Arch, or Brunson. They have weapons in Daniels and Dixon, but they don’t strike fear in me the way past Nova studs have. When looking at their aggregate statistics, they are the definition of average. This is a game Providence should win, home or away. Providence 74 – Villanova 66.

Crier: I said it all off-season that this wasn’t the same Nova. I mean how could they be? You lose a Hall of Fame coach, an absolute winner/killer in Gillespie and a program stalwart in Jermaine Samuels. So far the evidence on the court has proven to be true. However, I’m not looking past this Nova team in the slightest. They are now starting to play better, and Moore could provide a huge boost. Having said that I think the Friars go into Wells Fargo and steal one. PC 75- Nova 71. I’M NOT AFRAID ANYMORE!

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