Villanova (2-0) vs. Purdue (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,786) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Villanova 2-0, Purdue 1-1. Away Record: Villanova 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Neutral Record: Villanova 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Conference Record: Villanova 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Series Record: Villanova leads 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: In the second semifinal matchup in the 2K Sports Classic, the unbeaten Villanova Wildcats will square off with the Purdue Boilermakers at Madison Square Garden.
Led by freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono, the Villanova Wildcats earned their second win of the season on Sunday, Arcidiacono scored 25 points and the Wildcats would up with an 80-68 win over a tough Marshall squad. That win was the second of the season for Villanova, with the first being an easy 78-58 win over District Of Columbia. A 2-0 start is a good beginning for a Villanova team trying to bounce back from its first losing season since 2003.
On the other side the Boilermakers have split their first two games. First Purdue was stunned by Bucknell on its home floor. Fueled by the disappointment of that loss the Boilermakers took out their frustration in the second game with an 83-54 pounding of Hofstra. Purdue won 22 games last season and has had at least 22 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance in each of the last six seasons.
The next matchups for both teams will be determined by the first semifinal matchup between Alabama and Oregon State.
It was during the John Wooden Classic in 1995 that Purdue and Villanova took part in the only matchup between the two teams. Villanova came out on top in that contest, 76-51.
Along with Arcidiacono's strong effort, the Wildcats had two other players in double figures as they shot an even 50 percent from the floor in the win over Marshall. Villanova got to the line often and outscored the Thundering Herd 25-8 from the charity stripe. The Wildcats also did a solid job on the boards and benefited from a 37-23 rebounding advantage.
Arcidiacono's offensive eruption is a very good sign for Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who has relied heavily on a long list of talented guards in his tenure. Arcidiacono (18.0 ppg) is unlikely to keep the 25-point pace, but has already impressed early in his career with his ability to score and run the point (5.0 apg). Both Derrun Hilliard (10.5 ppg) and James Bell (14.0 ppg) are scoring in double figures through the first two games. In fact, against Marshall, the guard trio accounted for 59 of the team's 80 points. Center Mouphtaou Yarou is off to a sluggish start. Thought to be a player that could make a big splash this season, he has only brought in 4.5 rebounds per game, while scoring 6.5 points a contest.
Purdue was simply dominant in its matchup with Hofstra earlier in the week. The Boilermakers led by a massive 42-17 margin going into halftime by shooting 55.9 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, while holding the Pride to just five first half field goals. Purdue also beat up on Hofstra inside with an incredible 50-22 edge on the boards in the game.
Guard play will be a key in this matchup as well for Purdue. Both of its double-figure scorers thus far have come out of the backcourt. Anthony Johnson (11.0 pg, 4.5 apg) has looked particularly strong early on as not only the Boilermakers' leading scorer but top distributor as well. Ronnie Johnson (10.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.5 apg) has been stuffing the stat sheet early on and has been a workhorse for head coach Matt Painter after playing a team-high 60 minutes through the first two games. Senior swingman D.J. Byrd is the real leader of the squad and has been solid (8.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg) in the first two games.
College basketball is largely dictated by guard play and in this matchup the backcourts will be front and center. This one may come down to which frontcourt can be most effective. With Yarou, the Wildcats have the best inside option.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 67, Purdue 61
11/15 10:36:02 ET