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Villanova looks to end UConn’s 14-0 undefeated record at home in a massive Big East showdown in Storrs | Villanova vs. UConn Preview

Written by on February 24, 2024

With increasing confidence and momentum, Villanova wants to end UConn’s undefeated home streak tonight in Storrs, Connecticut. The Huskies have won all 14 home games this season. The Wildcats have not defeated the Huskies since March 11, 2022. Villanova enters tonight’s game with a 15-11 overall record and 8-7 record in conference play. They are still on the edge of an at-large bid to get into March Madness, but a win tonight on the road against #1 UConn would almost certainly punch Villanova’s ticket to the big dance.

All-Time Series

Villanova leads the all-time series against UConn, 39-35. However, Coach Neptune and the Wildcats have lost three consecutive matchups, including a 66-65 loss against the Huskies at the Wells Fargo Center on January 20th. The Huskies, who are the defending 2023 March Madness Champions, are 24-3 overall and 14-2 in Big East play. They have a two and a half game lead over Marquette for the conference title. UConn’s season has been highly successful with only a few mistakes, but one of those bumps in the road came against #15 Creighton in their most recent game on Tuesday. UConn lost by 19 points on the road in Omaha. UConn, who is usually an excellent three-point shooting team, shot just 19% from behind the arc against Creighton. The Huskies and Coach Dan Hurley will surely be ready to go tonight against Villanova looking to avoid losing two straight games, and the Wildcats must be ready to match the intensity and keep the game competitive for the entire 40 minutes.

UConn Preview

As a team, the Huskies average more than 81 points per game while shooting 49.7% from the field. They convert 36% of their three-point attempts. Their offense is one of the best in college basketball with five players averaging over 10 points per game. They are above average in rebounding and limiting turnovers with 38 rebounds and just 10 turnovers per game. If you can find a weakness in UConn’s game, it would be their free throw shooting. The Huskies shoot 73.6% from the charity stripe. Their defense has been great for most of the season, but they have trouble at times defensively. This UConn team is definitely led by their offense and playmaking ability.

UConn’s Players to Watch

G Tristen Newton (Senior, El Paso, TX): 15.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, scored 25 points against Villanova on 1/20.

F Alex Karaban (Sophomore, Southborough, MA): 14.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, averaging 15 points in his last four games.

C Donovan Clingan (Sophomore, Bristol, CT): 12.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, scored 29 points in his last two games. The battle between Clingan and Dixon will be an important one to watch tonight. Clingan has been great recently, but he scored just six points against Villanova in the first game.

First Matchup on January 20th

In the first matchup between these two teams, Villanova played fantastic defense, but the offense had troubles at times, especially in the beginning of the game. The game was lost late after two offensive fouls were called on Justin Moore in the final two minutes. The Wildcats also started the game by allowing an 11-0 run to the Huskies, which was hard to overcome. Overall, the Wildcats hurt themselves a lot in the first game, and UConn just did enough to beat Villanova. Yes, that is what the best teams in country do: find ways to win close games, but the Huskies definitely did not bring their best game to South Philly in January, and Villanova’s defense did an outstanding job.

Villanova vs. #1 UConn at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia on January 20th.

Villanova’s Terrific February + Keys to the Game

In the month of February, Villanova has won four of five games, including three straight games. The Wildcats have held opponents to 55 points per game this month. They have a much tougher task defensively than in the past few games tonight, but Villanova’s defense can limit this Huskies’ offense like in the first game and they are playing their best basketball heading into this monumental contest.

To win this game, Villanova will need Eric Dixon. Dixon, who averages 15.9 points per game this season, scored 22 points in Villanova’s most recent game: a ten-point win over Butler. He scored just nine points against the Huskies in January while shooting 1-6 from the field. The Wildcats need him to find some more offense tonight against UConn’s game plan, and Dixon is one of the best players in the Big East, so he should improve from the first contest. Justin Moore scored 15 points against UConn in the first game. After struggling for much of late January and February, Moore scored 23 points in his last two games, including some excellent three-point shooting. Moore and Dixon worked well together to provide great offense against Butler, and if they can do the same against UConn, the Wildcats have a shot to spark a major upset in Connecticut. In addition to Dixon and Moore having offensive success, Villanova must limit turnovers and stop the Huskies from any large runs, especially early in this game. The Wildcats need to set the tone early in this tough environment to try and limit the crowd. Brendan Hausen continued his efficient three-point shooting and energetic spark for Villanova against Butler. He’s now averaging almost 14 points in the month of February. Hausen has created some space in the last few games, and the transition offense has been crucial for Villanova’s overall offensive scheme and rhythm. In the first matchup, Villanova’s problem was the offense, and hopefully, the offense can get enough points led by Dixon, Moore, and Hausen to combine with the recent outstanding defense.

Game Info

Tonight’s game begins at 8pm at Gampel Pavilion and can be watched on FOX. UConn is heavily favored to win this game, but Villanova has shown their resiliency over the last five games. The Wildcats will fight and hopefully they keep the game close with a chance to steal the victory late.