Villanova might be the most talented 10-10 team in the country. Similar to Pittsburgh, Villanova’s struggles this season are somewhat unexplainable. Over the past three seasons, Jay Wright has brought in a total of eight 4 & 5-star recruits. The talent is there, but the wins have been tough to come by for the Wildcats this season. Villanova is on their first two game winning streak since November. The series record between Louisville & Nova is tied at 8-8, but the Cards haven’t beaten the Wildcats since the 2009 Big East tournament.
Villanova is led by point guard Maalik Wayns who is the Big East’s second leader scorer at 18.7 points per game. Wayns is this week’s Big East Player of the Week. He followed his career high 39 point, 13 rebound effort at Cincinnati on Jan. 14 with a pair of strong efforts last week. The 6-2 guard contributed 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds to an 84-76 win over Seton Hall on Jan. 18. Wayne is averaging 30.7 points over the last three games.
Freshman forward JayVaughn Pinkston was recognized as the conference’s Rookie of the Week. Pinkston had his first two career double-doubles last week. Against Seton Hall he poured in a season-high 23 points to go with 11 rebounds in the win over the Pirates. Pinkston followed that up with a 13-point, 12-rebound effort in Nova’s overtime win against St. Johns on Saturday.
Junior’s Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou are both having solid seasons for the Wildcats. Cheek, a 6-6 guard is averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds per game. Yarou, a 6-10 250 lb. center is averaging 12 points and 9 rebounds per game. Yarou had a monster game against Louisville last year, scoring a career-high 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds
The biggest problem for Jay Wright and Villanova this season has been defense. The Wildcats don’t have a big problem scoring, but stopping teams has been a different story. They have also been turnover prone at times. Both teams will look to get out and run when the opportunity is there. It may be tough for Louisville to cover the nine point spread, but if the Cards can play like they did towards the end of the Pittsburgh game, it could happen.