Pre-NCAA game preview: Villanova

Are you ready for some more late night drama?

UConn’s NCAA tournament East Region third round game with former Big East rival Villanova should be very entertaining.

It will be hard to top Thursday’s overtime thriller against Saint Joseph’s University.

Both teams expect a real intense game.

“It’s going to be a fight,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “We’ve got to be ready for that, and we’ve got to keep throwing punches.”

 Here’s a pre-game preview

 -- Tip-off time: approximately 9:40 p.m. (TBS)

 -- Location: First Niagara Center, Buffal0

 -- Records: Seventh-seeded UConn 27-8, No. 2 Villanova (29-4)

 -- Last game: UConn beat Saint Joseph’s, 89-81 (OT), Thursday; Villanova defeated Milwaukee, 73-53, Thursday

 -- Probable starters: UConn, 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (17.6 pts, 6.0 rebs, 5.0 assists), 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (12 pts, 3.5 assists), 6-9 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (12.7 pts, 5.7 rebs), 6-7 sr. forward Niels Giffey (8.6 pts, 3.5 rebs), 6-10 so. center Phil Nolan (3.7 pts, 2.5 rebs)

 Villanova, 6-3 jr guard Darrun Hilliard (14.3 pts), 6-3 so. guard Ryan Arcidiacono (9.7 pts), 6-6 sr. guard James Bell (14.5 pts, 6.1 rebs), 6-7 jr. forward JayVaughn Pinkston (14.2 pts, 6.1 rebs), 6-11 so. forward Daniel Ochefu (5.7 pts, 6.1 rebs)

 -- This is the first meeting between UConn and Villanova in the NCAA tournament.

 -- Series: UConn trails 33-30, losing last meeting 70-61 on Feb. 16, 2013, at the XL Center. The Huskies have won four of last five overall.

 -- Giffey on Villanova: “They’re one of the typical former Big East teams, real scrappy, really aggressive. I know they play a double-team, and they trap on defense. So they really try to bring the game to you.

“They’re not going to just sit back and relax and wait for stuff to fall.  That’s just the kind of basketball we expect.”

 -- The Wildcats are second in Big East in scoring at 78.5 points and make nine 3-pointers per game.

“They’re a great, amazing three-point shooting team…,” Ollie said. “So we’re going to have our work cut out for us. We’ve got to run them off the 3-point line. We’ve got to play Pinkston down low. He’s a great player also. That’s what gives them balance, and that’s what makes them tough to guard.”

 -- For the fourth time in the last five games, UConn will play a ranked opponent. Villanova is sixth in the Associated Press top 25 poll. The Huskies are 6-4 against ranked teams this season.

 -- Top reserve: 6-5 freshman guard Josh Hart (8 pts, 4.5 rebs).

 -- Common opponents:Temple (UConn swept, 90-66 and 68-55; Villanova won 90-74), Saint Joseph’s (UConn won 89-81, Villanova won 98-68).

 -- The Huskies own a 33-8 record in last 12 NCAA trips, dating back to 1999.

 -- Hot: Freshman Amida Brimah is averaging nine points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in last three games. Cold: Reserve Lasan Kromah is shooting 33 percent (14-for-43) in last 10 games.

 -- The Huskies are 3-0 in NCAA tourney games in Buffalo.

 -- Tonight’s winner advances to the Sweet Sixteen Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The next opponent will be Sunday’s winner of the Iowa State-North Carolina game.

 -- Napier expects a typical Big East type game.

“The team that’s going to be giving the most effort and the most aggressiveness on the court is going to end up winning because that’s what the Big East is all about.”

 -- Villanova’s James Bell on Napier: “He’s a great player, a great point guard. He gets everybody involved as well as himself…. He’s been in this position before and just won a national championship. He knows what it takes to win. He’s just a great opponent, one of the best players in the country. It should be interesting playing against him, trying to stop him.”

 -- Villanova coach Jay Wright on his team’s familiarity with UConn:

“UConn, they know, and these guys were recruited by UConn, and they’ve watched UConn. So I think our guys are very dialed in because they have great respect for the tradition and also the current team.”

 -- Check back after the game for a post-game breakdown.

-- Follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe

Reader Comments


Hamilton announces his retirement

  Former UConn great Richard "Rip" Hamilton announced his retirement today.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  The regular season is winding down.  

Post-game breakdown: Tulane

  UConn took a difficult route to victory on Sunday.  So it was a typical win for the Huskies, who held off Tulane, 67-60, at Gampel Pavilion.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  It's hard to believe the regular season is already winding down.

Boatright, Dunn finalists for Bob Cousy award

  UConn senior Ryan Boatright and Providence sophomore Kris Dunn are two of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award in college basketball.

Post-game breakdown: Memphis

  Freshman Daniel Hamilton is a rising star.  The latest evidence came in UConn's 75-72 loss at Memphis on Thursday night.

Pre-game preview: Memphis

UConn and Memphis meet twice over the final few weeks of the regular season.

Post-game breakdown: Tulsa

 UConn played its most complete game this season on Thursday night. Its near perfect performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

Pre-game preview: Tulsa

UConn begins a make-or-break stretch tonight.The Huskies host Tulsa, the American Athletic Conference leader, at the XL Center.

Calhoun pays tribute to Dean Smith

 UConn released a statement late Sunday from Jim Calhoun on the passing of fellow Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith, the North Carolina legend.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  Here’s a revealing statistic:  UConn is 7-1 when Rodney Purvis scores in double figures.

Post-game breakdown: East Carolina

  UConn played about 13 minutes of nearly perfect basketball on Wednesday night.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  UConn has never lost more than two games in a season at Gampel Pavilion since the building opened in 1989.  That streak is in jeopardy.

Post-game breakdown: Cincinnati

 Well, that was a complete dud. UConn never led and played poorly for most of the game, losing 70-58, at Fifth Third Arena.

Pre-game preview: Cincinnati

   Senior Ryan Boatright knows what’s at stake in the final 12 regular season games, starting with tonight’s action at Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena.