Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Villanova @ Providence

January 23, 2006

In what is a VERY important game to both teams, Providence and Villanova hook up in the Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence for a Big East conference match-up. The Friars have gotten off to a 3-2 conference start, winning all three games in the 'Dunk' in Big East play. Villanova is off to a 2-3 conference start but have been mighty impressive in their last two outings, beating Notre Dame 102-87 and out-lasting Texas 76-69 on Saturday without Curtis Sumpter.

Here are some of the pregame stories and articles found on the internet on today's game:

Preview: Villanova @ PC (Providence Journal)
Nardi's New Approach (Centre Times Daily)
Young Cat Becomes a Leader (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Aggressive Style Has Kept Wildcats Lean, Mean (Providence Journal)

For Providence, having this game at home makes it a must-have. After falling in back-to-back games to Louisville and Seton Hall on the road, the Friars returned home and righted the ship against lowly Rutgers. The Friars have a little bit of everything with athletes (Herbert Hill, Weyinmi Efejuku), toughness (Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale) and shooting (Sharaud Curry, Brian McKenzie, Dwain Williams). They also get some production off their bench, but they still need to improve defensively and in taking care of the basketball. Turnovers killed them against Seton Hall and led to them falling behind by a lot early against Louisville. Tonight, they will need to take care of the ball and for Curry to do a better job of getting everyone involved first and then getting his offense secondly.

There is a question on the health of Villanova star Curtis Sumpter, which worries me about this game. Sumpter is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Wildcats, but in his absence another star may have been born as Scottir Reynolds took control of th egame for Villanova, scoring 26 points and that was following a 27-pt effort against Notre Dame. The Wildcats are going to need a good floor game from Mike Nardi and for him to hit some shots and see production from their frontline of Shane Clark, Dante Cunningham and Will Sheridan for them to get a win if Sumpter is out of the line-up.

I have seen Providence and Villanova both favored by a point, so the game is essentially a 'pick 'em' contest. Without Sumpter, I do not see Villanova being able to score enough on the road in this contest. However, if Sumpter is able to play, he rounds out the Villanova attack and gives them a little extra rebounding which should lead them to a win. It is a cop out, but I see a close game either way with Sumpter being the difference.


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