Villanova vs. Xavier Preview + Providence Recap
Written by David Szczepanski on February 21, 2023
After losing on Saturday evening in Rhode Island, Villanova looks to regroup and battle #16 Xavier at 6:30pm in Ohio tonight.
Brief Summary of the Providence Game
The Wildcats did not get off to a very good start against Providence. With just 3:54 left in the first half, Villanova trailed Providence, 32-22. However, Nova cut the deficit to just five points before halftime after a Brendan Hausen three. The Wildcats continued their run from the end of the first half into the beginning of the second half. They went on a 9-3 run to capture their first lead of the game led by a Cam Whitmore slam dunk. However, Providence took control of this game late by outscoring Villanova by eight points in the second half. Besides a few brief runs by Nova, the Friars always seemed to have control of this game.
The Friars remained undefeated at home in the 2022-23 season. Eric Dixon and Justin Moore combined for 35 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Caleb Daniels had 11 points but shot just 1-7 from behind the arc. Mark Armstrong also had 10 points off the bench in 19 minutes for the Wildcats.
Providence had four of their five starters in double digits for points. Ed Croswell led all scorers on Saturday with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Croswell also scored his 1,000th point of his career.
Villanova vs. Xavier Preview
Villanova just had their three-game winning streak snapped in the loss against Providence. The Wildcats are now 13-14 overall and just 7-9 in Big East play. Villanova has yet to win a game against a Quad 1 opponent, but they will have another chance tonight against Xavier. The Wildcats are also just 3-8 on the road this season.
Xavier is 20-7 overall on the season and 14-1 at home. Xavier’s only loss at home came against #12 Indiana in pre-Big East play. The Musketeers’ 12-4 record in Big East contests puts them just one game out of the lead for the Big East; however, they are also tied for that second place spot with Providence and Creighton. Xavier’s leading scorer is Souley Boum with 16.2 points per game. Zach Freemantle, who averages 15.2 points per game, has not played since January 28th with an apparent injury. Freemantle has been ruled out for tonight’s game, so Jerome Hunter, who has been seeing increased playing time as a starting forward, will most likely start again tonight. Hunter has only averaged 6.8 points per game, but he scored 15 points against DePaul on Saturday. Xavier has won four of their last five games with their only loss in that stretch coming on the road against Marquette.
January 7th Matchup
In the last matchup between these two rivals at Villanova, the Musketeers beat the Wildcats by eight points, 88-80. Forward Zach Freemantle scored 29 points while shooting 12-17 from the field. Xavier will be without Freemantle tonight, but so far, they have handled their games well in his absence. Souley Boom also scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on January 7th.
Cam Whitmore was the leading scorer for Villanova with 26 points. Caleb Daniels also shot 8-19 from the field for 23 points. The Wildcats did not have Justin Moore back for this contest on January 7th, but they will obviously have Moore play tonight. On January 7th, Nova only turned the ball over eight times, but they shot just 43.2% from the field compared to Xavier’s 54.4%.
Overall, Villanova has not played well on the road this season. The Wildcats have also struggled to close games out and make key shots, especially against ranked opponents. Xavier has played great basketball all season long and needs wins as they are just one game back of Marquette. Villanova has the chance to play spoiler and get their first Quad 1 win of the season. If they are able to grab the Quad 1 win, that could definitely build some confidence for this team heading towards the final few games of the regular season and the Big East tournament.