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Villanova Pre-Game Chat

I'll take the V over that "'Nova Nation" bit anyday.
Villanova travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange tomorrow in the Carrier Dome at 1:00pm on CBS. Therefore, much like before here and here, Chris from the great Villanova blog I Bleed Blue And White and I had a chat. This time I asked him questions and he provided the answers.

1. Orange::44: Villanova was embarrassed by West Virginia this past weekend. Is this indicative of a slide by the Wildcats, or was this just an off night?

Chris: It wasn't really a shock that we lost because playing in Morgantown on a Friday night is tough enough, but add in the fact that West Virginia was backed up against the wall and I was hoping for a close win, but in my mind was pretty certain we weren't going to emerge on top. The way we lost was harsh though. Dante Cunningham was called for 2 offensive fouls in the first few minutes and it was all downhill from there. Our defense was horrendous again, but Da'Sean Butler wasn't going to miss if Michael Jordan was guarding him. Career night for him.
In the end though, it felt more like a hiccup than a trend-starter. 'Nova played a sloppy game in a win against Rutgers on Thursday, but got back on track with the win, which is really all that matters at the end of the day. The defense really hasn't been right in a few weeks, so they are going to have to turn that around because as they showed against West Virginia, the offense won't always save them.

2. Orange::44: Will Dante Cunningham have just as huge a game as the last time these teams met, or was that just an outstanding night for Cunningham?

Chris: That was the best game of his career and I'd be shocked if he had another game like that. He really couldn't miss. He was as close to automatic as can be. He's not always going to shoot like that, and as he showed Thursday (5-17), he can struggle at times with the jumper. I think Syracuse is a great matchup for him though. Onuaku and Jackson just can't stay with his movement in the zone, and he's good at finding those soft spots and releasing a quick jumper. If he's hitting them early on, Syracuse will have to try something different. I expect another good game from him, but certainly not what he did last time.

3. Orange::44: What will be the keys to victory for both Syracuse and Villanova?

Chris: For Syracuse, I think they need to shore up the zone defense. 'Nova picked it apart last time and put up 100 on them without shooting the lights out (except for Cunningham). Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher have been blazing lately and if Syracuse allows Fisher to get into the lane it could be another long day. Stokes was scorching the nets on Thursday (5-7 from downtown) and he's playing with tons of confidence. I'd expect a big game from him because if he's left open, it's going in the bucket. Also, Syracuse needs to avoid the bad turnovers (that's you Eric Devendorf).

For Villanova, they need to remember that Syracuse is going for blood this time around. They were embarrassed in Philadelphia a few weeks back and they'll play with a lot of pride this time around. I consider 'Cuse a 'lock' for the Tourney, but they will want a few more quality wins to get better seeding. Villanova can't expect to roll like they did last time. Thankfully, they've cooled off since the first meeting and realize that they need to play better. Fisher and Stokes are the key. If they play well, Villanova has a good shot to come away with the W.

4. Orange::44: This will be a very hostile environment for Villanova. How do you see them reacting to the Loud House?

Chris: Honestly, I see them handling it well. Villanova won in 2008 with the same team, so they've proven they can win there. Plus, they are coming off a loss in Morgantown where the crowd really had an impact, so they've had some experience with the hostile crowd recently. Fisher is the guy I would worry about the most in there, but he had a pretty good game there last year so that makes me feel better. There's no doubting that the noise will have an effect though.

5. Orange::44: Finally, how worried for you are this game for your team and how do you see it shaking out?

Chris: I know a lot of people are worried about finishing in the Top 4 of the Big East to get the double-bye, but I'm more concerned about NCAA seeding. Either way, Villanova needs to win this game. They have the chance to pass a few teams this weekend on the S-Curve, and they need to take advantage.

The last time they played Villanova had a great recipe for success. I don't know what Syracuse's plans are to adjust to Cunningham, but they'll need to draw something up. I think Syracuse will shoot better this time around, but I think as a team, Villanova will as well against the zone. Fisher and Jonny Flynn should have another great back and forth. I'll stick with my boys and say Villanova wins 77-72.
Special thanks to Chris, and to round out your game preparation head on over to his blog here and check what he has to say about the game. He and I will be back after the game to wrap it up with another post game chat. Look for that coming soon.

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