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Villanova at UCLA: 5 storylines to watch for top-5 matchup

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 01: Collin Gillespie #2 of the Villanova Wildcats dribbles the ball against Marcus Zegarowski #11 of the Creighton Bluejays in the second half at the Wells Fargo Center on February 1, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Creighton Bluejays defeated the Villanova Wildcats 76-61. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 01: Collin Gillespie #2 of the Villanova Wildcats dribbles the ball against Marcus Zegarowski #11 of the Creighton Bluejays in the second half at the Wells Fargo Center on February 1, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Creighton Bluejays defeated the Villanova Wildcats 76-61. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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UCLA Bruins (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
UCLA Bruins (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Now that the excitement of opening night has come and gone for both, the UCLA Bruins and Villanova Wildcats prepare to face each other Friday Night. Head Coach Mick Cronin saw the Bruins handle CSU Bakersfield on opening night while Jay Wright and the Wildcats began the 2021-22 season defeating Mount St. Mary’s (MD).

With the game between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Texas set to take place on Saturday being the only game to rival – in terms of highly ranked teams – the Bruins and Wildcats in the opening week, all eyes will be focused on the No. 2 and No. 4 ranked teams. Even when you put the rankings aside, this game has enough intrigue.

The Wildcats are defending Big East Champions and have over 73 percent of their playing time returning from last season. The Bruins, in their own right, made it to the Final Four last April and they have 93 percent of their playing time returning.

With two successful teams returning so much of their roster it is expected that they both will be atop of their conference and in the National discussion all season long. The Bruins have Gonzaga still ahead of them at the Good Sam Empire Classic while Villanova has Tennessee and either North Carolina or Purdue at the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic, all of whom are resume-building opponents.

A lot will be known about these two teams prior to conference play beginning in the first week of December. The losing record of one of these teams will have less significance after one game played in comparison to how important a win will be on Selection Sunday.