Virginia (16-3) at Villanova (19-2)
When: Sunday, January 29th 2017
Where: The Pavilion, Villanova, PA
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: FOX
A terrific non-conference game takes place Sunday afternoon as the Villanova Wildcats host the Virginia Cavaliers at The Pavilion. Villanova lost just their second game of the season on Tuesday night – one of three top 4 teams to lose that night – when they just couldn’t get on track from long range against Marquette. The Wildcats blew a 17-point lead and fell 74-72 to the Golden Eagles. The Wildcats were unable to overcome 6-of-34 3-point shooting versus Marquette with Kris Jenkins going 0-of-6 from the arc as part of a two-point performance. Mikal Bridges scored a season-high 20 points, while Jalen Brunson added 19 and Josh Hart chipped in 16 as the team suffered just its second loss in the last 27 games. Brunson has made at least half his shots in 11 straight games. Bridges is looking to score in double figures for a third straight game for the first time this season. Hart (19 points per game) has scored at least 10 points in all 21 games and also has multiple steals in four straight. Villanova heads back into Big East play on Wednesday at Providence.
The Cavaliers come into this contest with maybe the best defensive team in the country. Virginia has won five straight games including an impressive 17-point road win at Notre Dame to improve to 6-1 away from Charlottesville. The Cavaliers enter Sunday’s contest with the nation’s best scoring defense (53.3) and have allowed 54, 49 and 54 points in their last three games. London Perrantes scored 22 points against Notre Dame, although he was held without an assist for the first time this season. Marial Shayok continued his torrid January with double-digit points for the sixth time in seven games after failing to reach double digits in nine of the first 12 games. In his last seven games, Perrantes is a sizzling 20-of-35 (57.1%) from long distance. Virginia will host Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in a battle of ACC-rivals.
I think Villanova is talented and experienced enough on offense to cut through this vaunted Virginia defense. The Cavs will keep it close for a while, but the Wildcats will pull away in the second half.
Pick: Villanova -5