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Game Preview: Villanova Wildcats at Georgetown Hoyas

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Game 18:  Georgetown Hoyas (12-5, 4-2) vs No. 4 Villanova Wildcats (17-1, 4-1)

Series:  Hoyas lead 42-31

Where/When:  Verizon Center, Monday at 9pm

TV:  Fox Sports 1

It seems like just yesterday we were all celebrating Isaac Copeland’s first (I assume he’ll have many more over the years) game-winning 3-pointer against Butler but here we are again with another HUGE home game to talk about.

Everybody knows the deal as these are the two premier programs in the BIG EAST.  Yes, it would be nice if St. John’s joined in to help the league’s visibility but they have Steve Lavin so we don’t need to hold our breath.

In the meantime it’s all about Georgetown and Villanova and right now it’s important that the Hoyas get back on track and snap their current 3-game losing streak to the Wildcats.  A win would put the Hoyas all alone in first place in the BIG EAST until at least Thursday night.

Villanova comes in with the biggest bull’s eye in the conference as the No. 4 team in the country.  Georgetown last beat the fourth ranked team in 1986 with a win over Syracuse while the Hoyas last lost to the fourth ranked team in 2010 (Syracuse, Villanova).

So what do we know about the Wildcats?

Well we know that they can score – they were just a point behind Xavier with 77.8 per game entering Saturday’s games – and they can hit 3-pointers.  Villanova shoots 36 percent from deep, making about eight per contest.

As we know with Jay Wright coached teams, Villanova will play a lot of guards at the same time and those guards will try their best to draw fouls by running into defenders.

Wildcats lowdown: I still don’t know how the Hoyas missed on local standout Josh Hart but it unfortunately happened.  Hart is one of five Wildcats averaging in double figures along with team leader Darrun Hilliard, Dylan Ennis, Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston.

Of course we haven’t even mentioned Ryan Arcidiacono who is third in the conference in assists per game as the Wildcats lead the league in assist to turnover ratio.   Naturally Arcidiacono leads the league in that category.

Over the years Villanova has gotten the reputation as a team that players smaller and excels on the offensive end.  That is still true to a large extent but what’s different about this team that has gotten off to a great 17-1 start is their ability to defend.  The Wildcats are second to only Butler in scoring defense in the BIG EAST by yielding just  61 points per game.

Last time out: Villanova broke up a surprisingly close game late against Big 5 Rivals Penn on Saturday to improve to 17-1.  The Wildcats swept through their local competition this year.

RPI: In a conference with the second best RPI (Big XII), Villanova stands at the top of the list with a current ranking of 5.  Yeah, five is pretty good.

Now on to your Hoyas.

Player of the Week: Just today D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was named BIG EAST Player of the Week.  The junior guard joins Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall) and D’Angelo Harrison (St. John’s) as the only multiple winners of the award so far this season.  A strong showing tonight against Villanova would go a long way towards DSR keeping the award after this week.

Smith: With neither team particularly deep with true low post players, it will be important for Joshua Smith to stay out of foul trouble and bother Ochefu as Villanova’s big man is coming off a career-high 21 points against Penn.  Smith is one of the most difficult matchups in all of college basketball so if he’s healthy – he apparently had the flu recently – this could be the matchup of the game if the Hoyas are going to pull off the upset.

More Frosh: Right now it seems as though only one of Paul White and Isaac Copeland gets significant minutes during the same game.  Depending on how they work on defense, this could be the game where we see them more together as it will probably take both of them scoring to get past the Wildcats.  Both offer the threat of hitting outside shots so it makes it harder on the defense.

Slow Starts: Georgetown is a perfect 3-0 at home in the conference but in all three wins they have gotten off to slow starts.  If there is one home game where a fast start is needed, it’s tonight against Villanova.  A slow start against Villanova could equal a really long night.

Movin’ on Up: With two made 3-pointers tonight, DSR would move past both Darrel Owens and Anthony Perry (135) on the school’s all time list.  Going forward after that he will have his sights set on DaJuan Summers (145) and moving into the Top 10.

Reason to be cynical:  Georgetown’s patented 8 minute stretch without a FG will be hard to overcome against Villanova, even at home.

Reason to be delusional: DSR has yet to have a big scoring night at the Verizon Center this season.  It’s only a matter of time before it happens and that time is obviously tonight.

Final Thoughts: I’d like nothing more than to see Georgetown snap a 3-game losing streak to Villanova but this is one of the games I had the Hoyas losing before the season and I don’t see that changing.  The good news is that I’m wrong all the time so here’s to another one of those instances tonight.