Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - In matchup featuring a pair of Top-25 teams, the Villanova Wildcats clash with the VCU Rams as part of the Legends Classic on Monday night.
The Wildcats, who were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season, are off to a 3-0 start, and in all three tests, each one taking place at home, they held off Lehigh (77-66), routed Maryland-Eastern Shore (81-44), and staved off Bucknell (72-65).
VCU boasts a 3-0 record as well. The Rams began the campaign with an 85-69 triumph over Tennessee at a neutral site, before posting home victories against Toledo (87-78) and Maryland-Eastern Shore (106-66).
The winner of this contest, the first-ever between the two programs, will advance to Tuesday's championship game to face either Michigan or Oregon. The loser of each contest will match up as well.
Villanova certainly didn't play its best basketball against Bucknell. The Wildcats only connected on 38.9 percent from the floor, including a shaky 5- of-22 effort from 3-point range. Dylan Ennis and Ryan Arcidiacono were both part of the problem, and the solution, with the duo combining for 31 points on just 9-of-22 shooting. Arcidiacono was especially erratic from 3-point range, making just 1-of-5 attempts.
The Wildcats were able to overcome their poor shooting effort because of the 21 turnovers they forced, which turned into 23 points.
Ennis (15 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is the leading scorer for the squad, while Arcidiacono (12 ppg, 11 assists) leads the team from the point. He needs to pick it up in terms of efficiency, however, with only 31 percent of his shots finding the bottom of the net. Daniel Ochefu (10 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Darrun Hilliard (10 ppg) and JayVaughn Pinkston (8.7 ppg) are all important contributors as well, although Pinkston has not gotten off to the greatest start.
VCU was up to its old tricks against UMES last time out. The Rams were unforgiving on defense, limiting the Hawks to just 38.3 percent shooting, while forcing 20 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Rams sank 55.7 percent of their field goal tries, including a 15-of-33 performance from 3-point range. With the game in hand fairly early on, reserve Terry Larrier ended up leading the team in scoring with 21 points.
Melvin Johnson (18.3 ppg) and Treveon Graham (18 ppg, 9 rpg) are normally the most potent scorers, although the latter is only sinking 39.5 percent from the floor. He does make up for it on the glass, however, leading the Rams by a wide margin. Johnson has been a more consistent shooter, netting 52.6 percent from the field. Larrier (10.7 pg) has carved out a nice niche for himself as a bench contributor, while Briante Weber (10 ppg, 7 apg, 5.5 apg) has been making plays at both ends of the court.