Villanova (11-17) at Rutgers (13-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 1st, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Louis Brown Athletic Center (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Villanova 9-5, Rutgers 10-6. Away Record: Villanova 1-9, Rutgers 2-8. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-3, Rutgers 1-2. Conference Record: Villanova 4-12, Rutgers 5-11. Series Record: Villanova leads 26-9.
GAMES NOTES: The Villanova Wildcats will travel to the Louis Brown Athletic Center for a Big East matchup with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, as the regular season nears its conclusion.
Villanova has not had the type of season most expected from Jay Wright's squad, posting just an 11-17 overall record this season and a miserable 4-12 mark against Big East competition. The Wildcats are currently riding a four- game losing streak that continued on Saturday in a blowout loss to Georgetown, 67-46. Villanova will close out the season this Saturday when the Wildcats host Cincinnati.
The Wildcats will probably be happy to face Rutgers, as Villanova has dominated the all-time series with 26 wins in 35 tries. This will be the first and only meeting this season with the season series split a year ago.
Rutgers has not had a very strong season itself with a mediocre 13-16 overall record to go with a 5-11 mark in league play. The Scarlet Knights ended a season-long six-game losing streak by surprising in-state rival Seton Hall with a 77-72 overtime win on the road on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights will also be at home in Saturday's regular-season finale, when they play host to St. John's.
Villanova was just awful against Georgetown, shooting an ugly 28.0 percent from the floor and managing only 14 total field goals in the game. The Wildcats were dominated in the paint as well with the Hoyas out-rebounding the Wildcats by a 41-24 margin.
The Wildcats have been more consistent offensively on the year, averaging 71.6 points per game. However, the shooting woes are nothing new. Villanova is the worst shooting team in the Big East this season, connecting on only 40.9 percent from the floor. Villanova may be even weaker in this matchup with JayVaughn Pinkston (9.9 ppg. 5.3 rpg) and James Bell (7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg) both listed as questionable with sprains to their left ankles. This puts even more pressure on junior guard Maalik Wayns (17.2 ppg, 4.4 apg), who has already been carrying the team almost by himself this season. Wayns couldn't find any rhythm against Georgetown and scored just three points on 1-of-10 shooting. Dominic Cheek (13.2 ppg) has also been in double figures this season and seemed to be the only player not affected by Georgetown's defense by scoring 19 points on Saturday. Mouphtaou Yarou (10.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg) will also be called on to give more production from the frontcourt, if Bell and Pinkston are sidelined.
Rutgers shot at a solid 52.7 percent clip and was lethal from three-point range (10-of-15) as the Scarlet Knights mounted a second-half comeback to force overtime against Seton Hall on Saturday. In the extra frame Jerome Seagears knocked down two three-pointers to clinch the win.
Rutgers is the second worst scoring team in the Big East this season at 66.0 ppg and is also near the bottom in field goal percentage (.433) and rebounding (34.4 rpg). Dane Miller (7.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) had his best all-around game of the season in the win over Seton Hall by posting fifth double-double of the season with a season-high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds. He has now scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time this year. Eli Carter (13.4 ppg) usually leads the team in scoring and still put together a good game against Seton Hall with 17 points. Gilvydas Biruta (10.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Seagears (7.7 ppg) also enjoyed improved performances from their season averages, with each putting in 16 points against the Pirates.
Villanova may have the more skilled roster in this matchup but with the Wildcats' road issues (1-8) it is tough to see them pulling out a win in this matchup. Look for Carter to again be aided by some solid play from the rest of the roster, as the Scarlet Knights keep the Wildcats spiraling downward.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 71, Villanova 66
03/01 10:34:25 ET