Thursday, March 05, 2009


March 5, 2009

The stakes are always high in college basketball in March. The regular season finales in the Big East begin tonight and there is a lot riding on the match-up in Philadelphia between Villanova and Providence.

The Wildcats enter the contest with a 12-5 Big East record and 24-6 overall mark. While selection Sunday will not be a sweat for 'Nova, a win tonight in the regular season finale would clinch a top four finish in the Big East, meaning a double bye in the 2009 Big East Tournament which begins next week in Madison Square Garden.

The stakes for Providence are much higer. With a 10-7 Big East conference record, PC has put themselves in good position to be invited to the Big Dance. However, their overall mark of 18-11 keeps them squarely on the bubble and very vulnerable to falling on the wrong side. A road win over the Wildcats, couples with resume building wins over Syracuse and Pitt at home should be plenty for the Friars to take their place in the Field of 65.

Here are some game previews and stories on tonight's game:

Villanova Needs Win Tonight Against Providence to Improve Big EastTournament Seeding (Philadelphia Daily News)
Capsule Preview: PC at Villanova (Providence Journal)
PC Can Help Itself Off NCAA Tournament Bubble with Win at Villanova (Providence Journal)

The Friars and Wildcats met in Rhode Island back on February 4th and 'Nova held off a furious late came rally by PC to hold on for a 94-91 win. Scottie Reynolds led Jay Wright's squad with 31 points in that contest.

Villanova led 49-34 at the half and built there lead to as much as 20 points in the earlier meeting before a slwe of three's and driving buckets by Sharaud Curry and Wyinmi Efejuku ignited the comeback. A three by Efejuku with four seconds remaining closed the gap to 92-91, but it was too little too late.

According to the latest college basketball lines, Villanova is a 10 1/2-point favorite tonight in a game at their on-campus home, the Pavillion, where 'Nova has won 27-straight. Their home loss last weekend occurred at the Wachovia Center. The rebounded from the 56-54 setback against Georgetown to blow past Notre Dame on the road after halftime Monday night.

It is also senior night for the Wildcats and a chance for their fans to send-off leading scorer and rebounder Dante Cunningham as well as Dwayne Anderson, Shane Clark and Frank Tchiusi.

The keys for 'Nova will be their perimeter defense, something that is usually a great strength of their club, led by Corey Fisher, Reynolds and Reggie Redding. They will be matched up against Currey, Efejuku and Jeff Xaiver predominately on the PC side. Villanova is certainly aware they can put up points in a hurry, but so can they, especially on their comfy and cozy home floor.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Villanova 88
Providence 75



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