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UConn vs Villanova battle for big east supremacy

Publish Date: 24/02/2024
Fact checked by: Josh Schwartz

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The college basketball season is in full swing, heating up more than ever. Next, we have the undefeated UConn Huskies going head-to-head with the Villanova Wildcats this Saturday at Gampel Pavilion.

With just a few weeks left in the regular season, this game is more than another match. It’s a deciding factor for their places in the conference and spots in the NCAA tournament.

Villanova Wildcats face number one UConn

The Villanova Wildcats (15-11 overall, 15-11 against the spread, 8-7 Big East Conference) are preparing for a tough match. This Saturday, they’ll be visiting the UConn Huskies (24-3 overall, 16-11 against the spread, 14-2 Big East Conference), ranked number one.

The game is set to kick off at 8 pm Eastern Time at UConn’s home ground, the Gampel Pavilion. The last time these two teams faced off was on January 20, at Villanova’s turf. The Huskies narrowly won that game with a 66-65 score but failed to cover a 4-point spread.

Once dominating UConn under the guidance of Jay Wright, Villanova is currently facing a tough run. Now led by Kyle Neptune, the Wildcats have encountered some challenges.

A significant contributor to these struggles is player injuries, notably Justin Moore, with a lingering Achilles injury impacting his performance over the last two years. Villanova is dangerously close to the bubble at 34 in the latest NCAA Net Rankings.

Villanova has bagged three successive victories against Seton Hall (80-54), Georgetown (70-54), and Butler at home (72-62). They’re standing at the 8-7 score in the Big East. They’re unable to overtake UConn, who is leading with a 14-2 score. But they still have a chance to improve their standing in the upcoming weeks.

Villanova triumphs against Butler

Villanova finished strong against Butler on Tuesday with a 17-10 run. Eric Dixon played a big role in this victory, scoring 22 points and nabbing six rebounds.

The Wildcats outshone the Bulldogs in gathering rebounds, ending with 37 to Butler’s 20. Moore and Brendan Hausen also chipped in for Villanova, each adding 13 points.

Jay Dixon is the Wildcats’ main player, averaging 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. His shooting statistics are impressive, with a 47.3% overall success rate and a 35.2% three-point accuracy. Alongside him, guard T.J. Bamba, a former Washington State player, contributes 10.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. His three-point shooting success also stands at a notable 38.6%.

Villanova stands at 31st position overall according to KenPom’s ranking and sits solidly at 19th when it comes to Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Their offense game has seen some challenging times, with only 42.7% success in field goals and 33.7% in three-pointers. When we turn to their defense, they concede goals at a 41.4% rate and long-range shots at a manageable 32.4%.

UConn’s streak halted by no. 15 Creighton

The AP acknowledged UConn as the nation’s top team this week but suffered a surprise loss to No. 15 Creighton 85-66 on their turf Tuesday evening. Despite this unusual hiccup, the defending champs, with odds at +500, are expected to net their second consecutive title.

The Huskies have reigned victorious 14 times since their defeat by Seton Hall, making it unlikely that they will falter in securing a No. 1 spot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament unless they experience a sudden plummet late in the season.

UConn’s defense didn’t hold up in the game against Creighton, allowing the Bluejays to score 54.7% of their field goals and 50% of their three-point shots. Tristen Newton stood out for the Huskies with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Unfortunately, their record on Creighton’s home turf remains nothing to brag about, with an all-time 0-4 score.

The live show of ESPN’s College GameDay is being telecast from Gampel Pavilion. You can catch the show from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM Eastern Time, right before the game begins.

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