Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Villanova-St. Joseph's (PA) Primer

Tonight Villanova takes on St. Joseph's (PA) in the Pavilion for their fourth final Big 5 game of the season. A win would salvage a .500 record in the city series, and after scouring through old Villanova basketball media guides for nearly an hour, a loss would give Villanova three losses in the Big 5 for the first time since the 1978-79 season, my father's senior year at Villanova. For a bit more perspective, the last time Villanova had a losing record in the full Big 5 schedule, Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States, Margaret Thatcher was not yet Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, John Wayne was still alive, and Michael Jackson still hadn't released Off The Wall yet. This is something that hasn't happened in a long, long time.

On paper, SJU (PA) is a better team. They beat Villanova handily last year, they are ranked higher by any metric, they have a better record (5-2, wins against Notre Dame and Harvard, losses to Florida State and Creighton), and the most recent line I saw had them favored by 2.5, which means that they are essentially six points better than Villanova on a neutral court. Jeff Sagarin's line is reasonably similar.

As far as their actual on-court play, SJU (PA) is significantly better on offense than they are on defense, ranking 31st in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 76th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free rankings. Villanova is 111th and 110th, respectively. It is worth noting; however that Villanova's strength of schedule has been significantly more difficult according to Pomeroy. Don't get it twisted though, this is a good offensive team, but they are not a particularly great shooting team. They are, however, a decent offensive rebounding team, ranked 50th in the nation, compared to Villanova, which is 205th. Getting defensive rebounds in this game is a necessity for Villanova.

I'm not too confident, but this is a winnable game for the Cats. The game is tonight at 7 PM on ESPNU.

Just please win, because this is like the Super Bowl for their annoying fans.

1 comment:

  1. And related to 78-79, the only Big 5 win was against the Penn Quaker team that went to the Final 4 (losing to Magic Johnson's MSU team) and also the night that Tommy Sink went off for 39.