After taking a 71-65 upset loss to St. John’s on Sunday at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, No. 17 Villanova (20-6, 11-2 Big East) will be on the road again tonight to square off against another conference opponent in Georgetown (15-10, 5-7 Big East).
From one big city on their travels down I-95 to another metro in Washington D.C., the Wildcats will be looking to avoid a second straight metropolitan upset.
The worst thing about this past weekend’s loss was the fact that Nova built up a power 29-10 lead over the Red Storm at one point in the game. The Wildcats’ three-point defense was fantastic, and forced St. John’s into a 0-for-9 hole from behind the arc. But everything fell apart in the second half when the Johnnies hit 8-out-of-14 from the three-point line, and Villanova would eventually take the 71-65 road loss.
The three-point shooting from St. John’s was the main reason for the Wildcats’ loss.
“There was great energy in the Garden and it was great Big East basketball,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said to reporters. “I thought in the first half we were good. In the second half, they just took us out of it. They took us out of everything. We couldn’t execute any offense. A lot of our turnovers and missed shots turned into transition baskets for them. That was the game. This really was the tale of two halves.”
Joe Cremo would lead the Wildcats in scoring with 14 points, while Phil Booth would tally 13 points on the stat sheet. Eric Paschall would earn himself a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. In winning time, both Paschall and Booth were non-effective.
“Credit St. John’s,” Wright said to reporters. “They were tough and physical and took us out of everything we tried to do in the second half.”
There’s a silver lining for Villanova though: Saddiq Bey, the freshman forward for the Wildcats who has been consistently improving throughout the season, was named this week’s Big East Freshman of the Week. Bey put up 11 points and five rebounds at St. John’s.
For Georgetown, their last action was a week ago on February 13th when they took a 15-point 90-75 loss on the road to Seton Hall. Jessie Govan scored 20 points, while Greg Malinowski tallied 16 for the Hoyas.
Tonight, G-Town will be looking to break a nine-game losing streak to Villanova. In their last nine victories over the Hoyas, the Wildcats have won by an average margin of 17 points — blowout territory. Georgetown’s last win against Villanova was back in 2015, where the Hoyas would get a blowout victory themselves, 78-58.
Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing expressed his frustration after the game.
“They beat us in all phases of the game,” Ewing said to the media. “We were poor defensively. We didn’t execute our offense well. We didn’t show up.”
The key for the Hoyas to pull off an upset tonight is Govan’s game. He’ll need to have another explosive stat sheet in order for the Hoyas to be able to say, “mission accomplished.” Govan has been named as a finalist for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award — an award honoring the best center in college basketball.
Govan leads Georgetown in both scoring and rebounding with numbers of 18.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG. For the season, he has seven double-doubles, and he’s also hit the 1,500-point milestone in his career in the 2018-19 campaign.
The Hoyas are currently on a two-game losing streak and have also lost three out of their last four games. They would take a 12-point 77-65 loss to Villanova the last time they faced off a couple of weeks ago on February 3rd.
The last victory for Georgetown was back on February 6th against Providence where they would obtain a 76-67 win on the road. Since then, they’ve lost their previously mentioned two in a row.
With a struggling 15-10 record, the Hoyas are a solid 10-5 at home.
Tip-off between No. 17 Villanova University (20-6, 11-2 Big East) at Georgetown University (15-10, 5-7 Big East) is set for 6:30 PM ET, and will be nationally televised on FS1. The Wildcats enter as the -5.5-point favorite over the Hoyas.
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The Wildcats need to be on point tonight if they want to avoid a second straight metro upset. Not only are they on the road, but they’re also being forced to share half of the main line statistical categories (points-per-game, field goal percentage, rebounds-per-game, points against) with Georgetown. In offensive production, the Wildcats lack a hefty -6 behind G-Town with 75.8 PPG. From the field, it’s pretty much dead even, but Nova is +0.1 at 45.0 FG%. On the glass, they’re -5 at 35.5 RPG. On defense, a lock-down +11 at 66.7 PA.
If the Hoyas want to pull off the upset tonight, they’re not just in a realistic position to do so, but a pretty position at that. They take half of the statistical categories away from Villanova, and they also hold homecourt advantage at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. Their potent offense of 81.3 PPG has a +6 advantage, while their field goal percentage of 44.9 FG% lacks an extraordinarily tight -0.1. On the glass, the Hoyas place a nice-sized +5 bringing down 40.0 RPG. On defense, they take a distant hit at -11 with a dismal 77.9 PA.
Look for Villanova to bring in a lot of motivation tonight after the blown 19-point lead and eventual loss to St. John’s, but you better believe that Patrick Ewing and Georgetown closely evaluated that game and watched film since Sunday. Expect both teams to bring their best quality of play tonight, especially with G-Town being on a full week of rest.
I previously mentioned that Georgetown has a 10-5 record in Washington D.C., but it gets countered with Villanova’s solid 8-4 tally on the road. Here’s another plus for the Wildcats: They’re an elite 17-4 when listed as a favorite, but the Hoyas come in with an impressive resume themselves. As an underdog, even though they have a losing 4-6 record, they’ve still pulled four upsets this season. With that being said, the Wildcats need to be placed on upset alert. But things get better once again for Villanova with the two schools’ records against the spread: Villanova is 17-9 ATS and has a nice 9-3 ATS away record to go along with it. For Georgetown, things haven’t gone so well for them against the spread: They’re a losing 9-15-1 overall, and a depressing 4-10-1 ATS home.
The breakdown concludes that Villanova has the leverage, so I would suggest taking the Wildcats on the road tonight. And remember, they’ll have no interest in losing consecutive games, especially right before March. Let’s also be honest: Georgetown isn’t the best this season, they’re 15-10 record shows it. When you really dig deep into the numbers, it gets worse for them. Take Villanova for the distant win. Despite the Hoyas being at home, I look for the vengeful Wildcats to eventually wear out Georgetown and get away from them enough to be able to cover the -5.5 spread. G-Town has fire-power, just not the depth to keep pace with the Wildcats for a full 40 minutes. Nova covers. With the O/U at 148, it’s a bit of a risk to take the over, but I’d go ahead and place that bet. Even though Villanova’s defense is solid at 66.7 PA, the Hoyas can score at a massive rate — they average 81.3 PPG on the season. G-Town should be able to hold their own throughout and still get in the 70s, but it’ll be in the low 70’s due to the shut-down defense of Villanova. With Georgetown’s defense, they’ve been horrible this season, so you can definitely expect the Wildcats to put up some points with their explosive offense — look for 80 from them. Take the over; I have 153.