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Beating Notre Dame: Six Questions

Villanova Notre Dame Basketball

As I mentioned last night, I thought that Villanova’s game against Notre Dame was perhaps the best one they had played all season.  Anytime they needed a bucket, they got it.  Anytime they needed a stop, they got it.  In the end it resulted in a victory in what felt like a must-win game, even though Villanova is safely in the tournament.

There were a lot of positives and a few negatives so let’s talk a moment to look at them:

1.  Is Villanova’s defense back?  There is a lot to suggest it is.  The transition really started in the second half of the Georgetown game where the Wildcats allowed just 24 points and 8 of 20 shooting from the Hoyas.  Against Notre Dame, the Wildcats played that defense for a full 40 minutes as they held Notre Dame to 60 points, their lowest total of the season.  The Wildcats locked down on Kyle McAlarney and made every shot a difficult one for Luke Harangody.

After saying this was the worst defensive team he has ever coached before the game, Head Coach Jay Wright said afterwards that it was the best defensive game they had played all season.

2.  Was that Antonio Pena showing signs of life?  The final totals for Pena do not look like anything special.  He had six points, three rebounds and four fouls in 12 minutes.  However, when he was out there, Pena played offensively like he did last season.  He was aggressive not only on offense but defense, as well.  His problem right now is that at times he finds himself out of position defensively and picks up a silly foul.  If he can avoid those fouls and build on the offensive game he just had, Villanova becomes an even more dangerous team.

3.  Were there any negatives from yesterday’s game?  If there was any bad sign in the Notre Dame game, it was that after a bad game against Georgetown both Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes did not look great again on Monday.  Fisher finished with two points and four fouls and Stokes had just three points.  The Wildcats’ bench is the main reason they played so well in February, so it is essential that both players get back in a groove.  The game against Providence gives them one more chance before the Big East Tournament.

4.  Where was this Scottie Reynolds on Saturday?  All season long Reynolds has been a mystery, but it is without question that when he is on his game, no one on the team can score like Reynolds.  The junior guard was on fire against Notre Dame, hitting six of seven 3-point attempts and finishing with 23 points.  Consistency has been the only problem for Reynolds, and it is hard to say that Reynolds is back without seeing how he does Thursday.  On the positive side, Reynolds had 31 points when Villanova played on Providence Feb. 4.

5.  How does Villanova stand as far as a double-bye goes?  Things are looking good for the chances that Villanova will not have to play until Thursday.  If they can beat Providence, and Marquette loses to either Pittsburgh or Syracuse, the Wildcats will clinch the fourth seed.  There is an outside chance they could reach the third seed, but it is a real long shot.  If Villanova fails to beat Providence or Marquette wins out, Villanova will finish fifth and play at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

6.  There’s no way Villanova loses to Providence, right?  I wouldn’t say it is impossible, but this seems like a game Villanova will win.  The Wildcats can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is the double-bye in the Big East Tournament.  The team also has not lost at the Pavilion in 27 games.  Meanwhile, Providence’s best road win all season is against Cincinnati.

However, Providence is a desperate team, much like Georgetown was, and a road win against Villanova, may be the final thing they need to secure that NCAA Tournament bid.  Also, with school on spring break, the Pavilion will probably not be as loud as usual.  There are reasons for concern, but in the end, Villanova should prevail.

-David Cassilo

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 3, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I also think Villanova is going to beat Providence handily but what if Providence wins that game? Two big victories at the end of the season (Pitt/Nova), an 11-7 record in a tough conference… They have to be an 8-9 seed in the tournament, don’t they?

    We’re looking for Villanova bloggers at http://www.collegefanz.com, the largest college sports site on the net. Our free, easy-to-use blogs offer a great national readership. We’ve already got a large Villanova contingent on-site, so your blog would get the attention and comments it deserves.

    Take a look around and let me know what you think at mgleeson@collegefanz.com. I hope to hear from you soon, as I think you’d be a great addition to the site.


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