Villanova Wildcats (20-1 SU, 15-5 ATS) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (16-5 SU, 9-8 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, February 6, 2010, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Can Villanova stay undefeated in the Big East and move to 10-0 in conference play? Are the Wildcats really one of the best teams in the country? Is Georgetown a legit Final Four contender or will the Hoyas fall apart down the stretch? These questions will be answered when Georgetown hosts Villanova early Saturday afternoon in a Big East heavyweight duel.
The Big East is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conferences in college basketball. And Villanova has jumped out to a 9-0 start in conference play, something that is quite the accomplishment. But the difficult part of the schedule begins now for the Wildcats when they have to face teams like Georgetown, West Virginia and Syracuse down the stretch. This will be a huge test for them to see just how elite they really are.
Georgetown is 6-4 in conference play, so this game means more to the Hoyas. They are at home against a very good team with a chance to pick up another quality win and bounce back from their home loss to South Florida earlier this week. They don’t want to fall to the middle of the pack in the conference with a 6-5 record, so this game is certainly very important for the Hoyas.
For Villanova, it will be about stopping Georgetown center Greg Monroe. The Wildcats don’t really have many legit big men, so it will be up to Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton to contain Monroe down low. For the Hoyas, they will have to stop the guard penetration of Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns leading to open 3-point looks that most players on Nova’s roster can and will knock down.
Villanova is coming off an 81-71 home win over Seton Hall on Tuesday, giving the ‘Cats 11 straight wins with their last and only loss coming at Temple on December 13. In the win over Seton Hall, Pena led the team in scoring with 16 points and in rebounding with eight. Reynolds scored 15 points, Fisher had 12, and Stokes added 11. The ‘Cats did a terrific job on the boards, out-rebounding Seton Hall by 17. They shot 44 percent from the field and 6-for-20 on 3-pointers. They allowed high-scoring guard Jeremy Hazell to score 32 points for Seton Hall, but not other player scored in double figures.
Georgetown lost 72-64 at home to South Florida on Wednesday. Monroe had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Austin Freeman had 21 points (4-for-4 on 3-pointer). But nobody else stepped up for the Hoyas. Chris Wright shot 3-for-10 for eight points, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers. The Hoyas shot 48 percent from the field but the rest of the team besides Monroe and Freeman combined to shoot 8-for-25 (32 percent) and 1-for-14 on 3-pointers (seven percent). The Hoyas only forced eight turnovers and allowed South Florida to shoot 49 percent from the field. They have to step their defense up against a high-scoring Villanova team.
When these teams met at Villanova earlier this season, Villanova won the game, 82-77. The ‘Cats had a 46-31 lead at the half, but the Hoyas came out strong in the second half and made it a close game. Monroe dominated with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Freeman scored 22 points and Jason Clark had 16. Reynolds led Nova with 27 points. Neither team shot great from the field, but the ‘Cats were a little better at 43 percent (39 percent for Georgetown), so that was the difference.
Villanova is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games and 4-1 ATS in its last five games following an ATS loss. The ‘Cats are 15-5 ATS this season, 18-6 ATS in their last 24 games overall, and 5-1 ATS in their last six Big East games. The Hoyas are 6-1 ATS in their last six games following an ATS loss, 5-11 ATS in their last 16 home games, and 7-21 ATS in their last 28 Big East games. Villanova is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games at Georgetown. The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these teams and 6-1 in the last seven meetings at Georgetown.
Ryno’s Pick: If Monroe plays the way he did last time these teams met, the Hoyas should be able to assert themselves early and hold the lead throughout the game. But they have to come out in the first half like they did last time in the second half. Nova won’t be able to stop Monroe, so the Hoyas should just pound the ball inside. If he gets double-teamed, Freeman, Wright and Clark can knock down outside shots. If Georgetown plays defense the way it did against South Florida, Nova will score a lot of points. But if the Hoyas play defense like they did last week against Duke, it will be a different story. With the game at home and knowing how important this game is, chances are the Hoyas will step up their defense. Take Georgetown at -2 to cover the spread.