‘Cats look to get back on track against Mountaineers

Matthew Clark

Villanova (13-9; 5-4) will travel to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers (13-8; 5-5) this Saturday in a Big East match-up. The Wildcats will try to rebound from a big loss to Providence, while the Mountaineers are ridding the coat-tails of the win against St. Johns.

Offense: Allan Ray has been the consistent offensive weapon for the ‘Cats this year, leading the team with 17.6 points per game. Freshman Mike Nardi is ninth in the Big East in assists, averaging 4.43 a game. When the trio of Randy Foye, Ray, and Nardi reach double figures in scoring ‘Nova is 8-3 this season. While the guards have been the center of offensive attention most of the season, Jason Fraser, Curtis Sumpter and Will Sheridan combined for 16-20 form the floor with 17 total rebounds against the Hoyas.

The Mountaineer’s offense has fallen apart since January 9th when their leading scorer, Drew Schifino was suspended for violating team rules. Ever since then, West Virginia offense has struggled, averaging only 64 points per game. Since the suspension, many Mountaineers have picked up their scoring, but when a team’s leading scorer is only averaging 10.2 points per game (D’or Fischer), not many teams are going to be successful. Advantage: Wildcats

Defense: Villanova was once a strong defensive team, the problem as of late, has come from the three-point line. Rutgers, St. Joe’s and Georgetown all shot over 45 percent from behind the arc. The three-point defense has really caused trouble to the ‘Cats this year, as a third of their opponent’s points come from behind the arc. Against the Friars, the defense was nonexistent giving up 100 points, the highest total allowed since Nov. 22, 2003. The Mountaineers defensive is one of the best in Big East, holding teams to 68 points per game, and are lead by the leadership of Fischer in the middle. Fisher is third in the NCAA averaging four blocked shots per game and is also been the Mountaineers main weapon on the glass collecting 7.1 rebounds per game. West Virginia is a well-disciplined team and it will be hard for the ‘Cats to get offense going against a low post interior defense like the Mountaineers. Advantage: Even

Bench: The Wildcats have one of the best bench squads as of late. Snowden came off the bench and sparked the ‘Cats’ run to victory against the Hoyas with three 3-point field goals in the second half. Will Sheridan is having a great freshmen year averaging 10 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in the last thee games. Senior Andreas Bloch has also stepped up to become a leader on the court and a reliable three-point threat.

West Virginia has been struggling to find a consistent squad since Schifino’s suspension. Eight of 11 players have started this season. Patrick Beilein and Tyler Relph have been the regular go to guys off the bench. Combined Beilein and Relph average 14.5 points, 1.6 steals, 3.1 rebounds and are 39 percent from the floor per game. However, these numbers pale in comparison to the ‘Cats. Advantage: Wildcats.

Prediction: Villanova by 10.