Villanova takes on Providence

David Cassilo

Opponent Overall

The Providence Friars, led by new Head Coach Keno Davis, have their fans buzzing. With a 13-6 overall record and 5-2 start in conference play, the Friars are on their way to ending their five-year hiatus from the Big Dance.

Led by versatile 6-foot-8-inch forward Geoff McDermott, who played point forward in the absence of electrifying junior point guard Sharaud Curry, the Friars are currently ranked in the top eight in the Big East Conference. The return of Curry, who was plagued by injuries last season, gives Providence a deep and athletic backcourt that also features Jeff Xavier and Weyinmi Efejuku. Containing the Friars backcourt will be imperative for the Wildcats.

Opponent Strengths

The Friars contain a plethora of talent with all five starters possessing the ability to create their own shots. In the past two seasons, they have failed to capitalize on and live up to their talent levels. Providence, much like Villanova, goes as its guards go. Last season, Curry, Efejuku, McDermott and Xavier all averaged double-digit scoring. This season Efejuku is averaging close to 14 points per game and four rebounds per game, while leading the team in 3-point shooting.

Opponent Weakness

Providence is weak in the frontcourt with a mediocre rebounding margin. Senior Randall Hanke is an effective scorer, but his inability to rebound plagues an already-thin frontcourt.

Besides Hanke, Jonthan Kale is the only other forward on the roster with significant game experience. Kale has elevated his game This season, averaging over 10 points and five rebounds per game.

Who to Watch

McDermott is the most versatile player on the Friars’ roster with a wing span of over 7 feet and a 240-pound frame.

When McDermott’s outside shot is falling, he is one of the toughest players to guard in the Big East conference. An aggressive rebounder averaging close to nine rebounds per game, McDermott is one of the few Friars who will attack the offensive and defensive glass. Containing McDermott on the inside and outside will be a focal point of Jay Wright’s game plan.

What to Watch

The battle of the guards should be an intriguing matchup, as Villanova’s trio of Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds and Corey Stokes encounter Curry, Xavier and Efejuku. Junior Reggie Redding and senior Dwayne Anderson, both improving on the offensive end during the last few games, should allow the Wildcats to win the backcourt battle.

Additionally, Dante Cunningham continues to shine in his senior season, despite being plagued by foul trouble during the last two contests. Expect Cunningham to dominate in the post against a relatively weak Friar frontcourt. The X-factor of the game could be red-shirt sophomore Antonio Peña, who has begun to emerge as a major interior presence.

Villanova 74, Providence 61