Are you ready for some morning basketball?
The 3rd ranked Syracuse Orange (18-1 overall, 6-0 in the Big East) travel to Philadelphia this weekend to take on the Villanova Wildcats (12-7, 3-3) in a rare Saturday morning tilt. The game is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Center to accommodate ESPNU. Villanova Athletics' website promises a "white out" for the game, with fans wearing white t-shirts in an attempt to create an atmosphere for the national television audience.
This is the second meeting of the season between SU and ??Nova, with the Orange scratching out a 72-61 win on January 12th in the team??s first game after the academic suspension of senior forward James Southerland. Junior forward C.J. Fair picked up the slack for his ineligible teammate, scoring 22 points and adding five rebounds in 38 minutes. Freshman forward Jerami Grant also played well, scoring a season-high 13 in Southerland??s absence.
The Orange are led in scoring this season by senior guard Brandon Triche at 14.5 points per game, with sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams pacing the team (and the nation) in assists at 9.2 per contest. Carter-Williams is also fourth in the country with 3.2 steals per game.
The Wildcats are led by 6??7?? sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston with 13.2 ppg, and freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono chips in 11.8 per contest. However, Arcidiacono was held to seven points on 2-of-8 shooting earlier this month against Syracuse, which won its third straight in the series after losing eight of 11 previous matchups.
"They're as good as anybody in the country," Villanova coach Jay Wright said about the Orange earlier this month. "... The great thing about playing in this league is if you have a tough night, you get another chance to do something great your next time out. You are always playing outstanding teams."
Both Syracuse and Villanova are coming off of upsets of top five ranked Louisville, with SU famously beating the then-#1 Cardinals 70-68 last Saturday and ??Nova following that with a 73-64 win over the #5 Cards this past Tuesday.
This is the last regular season meeting between the two programs before SU leaves for the Atlantic Coast Conference this fall and Villanova eventually departs for the yet to be named ??Catholic 7?? league. SU holds a 38-31 all-time advantage over their longtime Big East rivals.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)