Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
If you like guards and unlimited three-point attempts, this may be the game for you. Niagara, who will lean heavily upon a deep guard rotation this season, visits the school that just a couple of years ago used four guards (out of necessity) to nearly knock eventual national champion North Carolina out of the NCAA Tournament. A subplot would be the return of Bilal Benn to Villanova, playing for the Purple Eagles after transferring from the Big East school two seasons ago. And he’ll be coming back with some help, most notably backcourt returnees Tyrone Lewis and Anthony Nelson, fellow transfer Rob Garrison (Connecticut) and big man Benson Egemonye. Lewis, who was MVP of the 2007 MAAC Tournament as a freshman, dropped 20 points, 6 rebounds and eight blocks (that’s right, blocks) in Niagara’s win home win over Towson on Sunday.
As for the Wildcats, they once again feature a talented backcourt, led by juniors Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding, and sophomores Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. But to focus solely on those talented guards is something that opponents do at their own peril this season, because Villanova is pretty good inside as well. Seniors Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark lead the way inside, with Cunningham hanging 31 and 11 on an overmatched Fordham squad on Monday night. Clark also returned in that 107-68 beating after missing the opener due to knee surgery on November 7th. So expect him to have his time monitored, meaning more minutes for Antonio Pena. Pena showed flashes of what he’s capable of last March, and has picked up from there with a pair of double-figure scoring efforts. Casiem Drummond provides extra depth, making it imperative that Niagara (which doesn’t have that kind of interior depth) stay out of foul trouble inside.
Winner: Villanova Margin: 1-4 - 5-10 - 10+ - 20+
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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