Tuesday NCAA Basketball: Why Texas Will Beat Villanova
by Matt Severance - 12/09/2008
What appears to be the game of the week in college basketball tips off Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where No. 6 Texas and No. 15 Villanova meet in the Jimmy V Classic, with UT a 3-point favorite on BetUS.
Yes, the Wildcats are 8-0, but take a look at their schedule: It's "cupcake city," as Dickie V would say. Schools like Albany, Fordham, Momouth, Towson and Houston Baptist. And they have yet to play outside the Philadelphia area. Not exactly a great way to prepare for the rugged Big East.
So when you say that Villanova is off to its best start since the 2005-06, hasn't won a game by fewer than 13 points this season and has trailed for only three minutes, 10 seconds thus far, well, be a little skeptical.
"We're going to know where we are. We're 8-0, and no one knows what that means," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said.
Forward Dante Cunningham leads Nova in scoring (17.3), one of four Wildcats in double figures, and rebounding (8.0). He already has posted three double-doubles.
Texas (6-1), meanwhile, already has played two ranked teams, losing by one point to Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational and beating UCLA by four last week in Austin. The Horns also have beaten Saint Joseph's and Oregon, so clearly they are more battle-tested heading into Tuesday night's game.
"I prefer a hard schedule," UT coach Rick Barnes said. "I think it helps you in the long run."
Texas' defense has been stellar, limiting all but one of their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting while allowing 56.7 points per game. They also have at least six blocked shots in six of seven games.
Guard A.J. Abrams looks like an All-American and is coming off a 31-point performance against UCLA. Remember, this is a club that won 31 games last year, reached the Elite Eight and lost only one key player, albeit a great one in D.J. Augustin.
Texas junior forward Damion James, the team's co-star with Abrams and a matchup nightmare, was hit in the right eye in that win against UCLA and had slightly blurred vision and a headache on Sunday, but he expects to play tonight.
The Wildcats also have one key injury for this game as swingman Dwayne Anderson, who has a stress fracture in his foot and has barely played this year, is questionable. If he can't go, that shortens coach Jay Wright's bench considerably, and the Wildcats could definitely use Anderson against the athletic Texas frontcourt.
Texas is 3-3 against the spread this year, while Villanova is 3-2 (only games against Division I-A teams included). These two teams last played in January 2007, with Villanova winning by seven. Scottie Reynolds scored 26 in that one.
Bet on Texas-Villanova at BetUS.