12/09/2008 01:56:00 AM
#15 Villanova (8-0) vs. #6 Texas (6-1)
9 p.m. at Madison Square Garden (New York)
Line: Villanova +2.5
Villanova heads to New York today for the Jimmy V Classic nightcap against Texas, a battle of top-15 teams in Madison Square Garden.
The game should be the first real test for undefeated Villanova. While the strongest opponent the 'Cats have faced is arguably a mediocre Rhode Island team, Texas is fresh off a win against then #12 UCLA. The Longhorns have also beaten Oregon and St. Joseph this season, and lost by 1 point to current #12 Notre Dame.
It will also be Villanova's first game outside the Philadelphia area. Texas has played four home games and three tournament games in Hawaii.
Villanova will be faced with containing the immense talent of the Longhorns, starting with national player of the year candidate A.J. Abrams. Abrams, a guard who should need no introduction, is averaging 18 points per game, and dropped 31 on the Bruins last week in a low-scoring game.
It will be the first time in Villanova's young season that the 'Cats do not have by far the most talented players on the court, so execution and strategy will play a much larger role than in previous contests this year.
Look for one Wildcat to be tasked with containing Abrams -- perhaps Reggie Redding -- while the frontcourt tries to stay out of foul trouble against the formidable twin-towers of Connor Atchley and Dexter Pittman.
The athletic swingman Damion James should also give the 'Cats fits on the wing, and it will be interesting to see if Corey Stokes or Shane Clark can stay with him defensively. James was injured against UCLA, but should be back in the starting lineup tonight. This would be a great game to have Dwayne Anderson at 100 percent; we will see how well Villanova's own athletic wing has recovered from his foot injury.
This is one of the biggest games of the year for the Wildcats, and the Villanova blogosphere is practically brimming with excitement. Villanova by the Numbers, I Bleed Blue and White, and VUhoops all run breathless previews. Also check Nova News later today to see if they weigh in with pre-game thoughts.
Should Villanova win this game and then avoid upsets against St. Joseph and La Salle later this week, the Wildcats will vault into the nationwide top 10 and possibly the top 5, depending on other games.
Let's Go Nova will be in attendance at the Garden tonight, so you might want to check the "live updates" sidebar on the right for any Twitter-assisted updates I can send from my mobile phone.
Finally, try to predict the game's final score in the comments section below.