This matchup sounds like it should be a fantastic one; Villanova, glamorous Big East program against run-and-gun Mizzou in the Garden. And it might in fact end up being an entertaining game… but don’t let the ‘Villanova’ name on the front of the jersey fool you. This is not an even matchup.
Missouri is one of the hidden gems in the nation, possessing a dynamite high-octane backcourt and a smothering pressure defense. They have already dismantled two BCS-conference programs this season; averaging a nearly 28 point per game win differential in their seven victories. Before you dismiss the wins as coming over weak competition (which a few certainly did), their wins include a 30-point pasting of Notre Dame and a 92-53 shellacking of then-ranked Cal. New coach Frank Haith inherited a ton of talent and is using the same pressuring frenzy to overwhelm opponents that worked well for Mike Anderson.
Villanova, on the other hand, has experienced some definite early season struggles. They currently sit at 5-2, but their best wins are a seven point win over La Salle and a nine point win over Penn. They have lost badly to St. Louis and narrowly to a very weak Santa Clara squad. Suffice it to say they haven’t seen anything yet this season to prepare them for the talent and tempo waiting for them tonight in the Garden.
Mizzou guard Marcus Denmon is averaging 20.6ppg and is a legitimate contender for Big 12 Player of the Year and First Team All-American honors. Add in backcourt running mate Kim English’s 16.9ppg and you have the making of one of the best under-mentioned backcourts in the nation. Villanova’s strength has traditionally been its onslaught of guards and a barrage of perimeter marksman. Tonight? That strength will be in the opposing uniforms. The only consolation is that it will be something Jay Wright’s staff is used to seeing.
This game will be entertaining, but don’t be the least bit surprised if Mizzou leaves ‘Nova in the dust tonight. I like the Tigers to cover and cover with ease, further solidifying their well-earned Top 10 ranking.
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