As a top-tier conference whose recent level of high competition has arguably been the 2023-‘24 NCAA Division 1 basketball scene’s most unpredictable, the Big East has been littered in must-see fistfights all season and the major conference’s heightened sense of palpable uncertainty lends itself to headaches on behalf of the betting community’s oddsmakers & gamblers. That said, this environment produces excitement; and college basketball fans were wowed once again when the up-&-down Villanova Wildcats slaughtered the steadier Seton Hall Pirates on the former’s home floor.
Unlike several of the 2023-‘24 ‘Cats games, Villanova got off to a strong start mainly on offense against Seton Hall, and earned itself a 7-0 lead in the affair’s first 3 minutes of action. Brendan Hausen was huge for Villanova; dropping 17 points and only trailing his teammate, Eric Dixon (18 PTS), in the individual scoring department. Although ‘Nova’s Tyler Burton was his usual (/unimpressive) self on the offensive end, he made his minutes count by impacting the game on the other end; stealing the ball from the Pirates on 5 occasions and grabbing 6 defensive boards.
From a ball-handling & game-management perspective, witnessing ‘Nova’s Mark Armstrong make the right decisions with the ball in his hands (and) as often as he did was a sight for sore eyes. In all, the sophomore guard’s ability to take care of the ball and manage the pace/flow of the game allowed ‘Nova to maintain its sizable lead; not to mention the flashy combo guard finished the blowout home victory with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting alongside 5 assists to just 2 turnovers.
Once the ‘Cats got up double-digits in the first half of this one, the game’s result was virtually a foregone conclusion that ended in a 26-point beatdown of a quality (now-) 8-5 Big East opponent (/Seton Hall). In holding the Pirates to just 54 points, the ‘Cats and their tenacious defense went to work; pressuring the Hall’s guards and turning the visitors over 15 times. The Pirates’ go-to scorer-&-playmaker, Khadary Richmond, couldn’t protect the basketball in Philly and finished the away loss with 6 turnovers alongside his 12 points; 4 below his season-average PPG mark of 16.
Next up for Villanova is the lowly Georgetown Hoyas (w/ the game) on Friday the 16th in DC. Once a nationally-feared powerhouse, Georgetown was a force with legends like Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson & many more. Today, the Hoyas of yesteryear are long gone and the current squad is riding an 8-game losing streak along with dropping 11 of its last 12.
Still, the ‘Cats have to come to play. While I probably wouldn’t have the slightest ounce of worry about this game in past years from the vantage point of ‘Nova, it would be foolish for me or any member of ‘Nova Nation to take the Hoyas for granted (and) on their home floor. Nowadays, the Hoyas are equipped with a real coach, Ed Cooley, who in his first year at the helm in DC arrived there with a strong coaching profile thanks to his success in Rhode Island as the leader of the Providence Friars. Combine Cooley’s great coaching mind with the (overall-) unsettling sense of wonder that’s permeated the Big East Conference as a whole, and you’d have to have something wrong with you to think Villanova is a total lock in this game. But, ‘Nova should be able to take care of business against G-Town if they come to play.
Lots of transfers on any one team lends itself to (nearly-) constant unpredictability. Villanova has 4 of them. I’m not a fan of unpredictability. But, w/ the NCAA March Madness Tournament a month & change down the road, now’s not the time to question oneself.