College Basketball Game of the Week: Villanova vs. Baylor
In one of the bigger marquee matchups this season has to offer, the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats travel to the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, to face off against the reigning national champions: the No. 2 Baylor Bears.
This game comes in part to the Big East/Big 12 Battle going on between the conferences. The Big East leads the challenge 4-3 heading into Dec. 9, making the Dec. 12 battle a potential challenge-sealing game for both squads and conferences.
Looking down the team statistics, Baylor finds itself averaging 84 points per game on a 48.3% shooting clip. The Wildcats average less points per game with 78.2 points at a 44.6% shooting percentage.
The Bears find themselves relying on the one aspect of their play style that helped guide them to a national championship last season: team defense. At 11.5 steals per game, 3.9 blocks per game and allowing opponents to score under 60 points per game, the Bears are looking to make another run to New Orleans.
Scott Drew’s team is led by guard LJ Cryer, who leads the team with 15.4 points per game, but the main pieces are shown with two players from last year’s squad that contribute in a multitude of ways: Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchachoua. The two players get significant minutes for the Bears, but find themselves grabbing boards off the glass, with Mayer getting 5.1 rebounds per game compared to Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s team leading 8.2 rebounds per game.
Their non-conference schedule has looked weak to start out. For example, they opened their season against a team named Incarnate Wood and blew them out of the water by 27 points.
Their real test came over Feast Week, where the Bears traveled to the Bahamas to partake in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The holiday tournament had Baylor face off against an Arizona State Sun Devils team who kept the game close, a VCU Rams team who stayed with the team and a Michigan State team primed for another run for the Big Ten. Baylor won all three of those games.
Their opponent in the Villanova Wildcats have had a more structured competitive schedule to start their season. Their two losses came against then No. 2 UCLA in Los Angeles and now No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers at the Mohegan Sun.
However, the Wildcats do have a big win under their belt at Madison Square Garden over the Syracuse Orange. Previously, their biggest resume-building win was against the No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers, blowing them out of the water 71-53.
Their attack is led by guard Collin Gillespie. After suffering a season ending injury near the end of last regular season, he has bounced back, posting 17.3 points per game on about 45% from the floor and behind the arc.
The depth shows with three additional players adding double-digit point averages on the season. However, head coach Jay Wright only goes three deep on his bench, causing a little concern for closer games if a starter gets injured.
These two teams have had historic runs to claim a national championship over the past five years. Both teams pride themselves on physical and methodical basketball.
These two coaches will have their teams prepared for what the other will bring to the table, so expect a hard-fought game.
But, as the saying goes, ‘Defense wins championships.’ Baylor’s defense will be the x-factor for this matchup, and that will ensure the Big 12’s victory in the challenge.
Prediction: Baylor 67, Villanova 59
Jonathan Draeger is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Third Year / Broadcast Journalism