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Villanova - UCF Preview

VUSports breaks down the Villanova - UCF match-up in Sunday's championship game of the Gildan Charleston Classic ...

Villanova takes on UCF in the championship game of the Gildan Charleston Classic on Sunday night at 9:30 on ESPN2.  The Cats enter the game 4-0 and UCF come in at 3-0.  The Knights, coached by former Duke stand-out, Johnny Dawkins, have wins over Nicholls St (80-56), Mississippi St. (86-61) and College of Charleston (60-40) under their belt and look to secure a larger skin by upsetting ‘Nova (which Kenpom predicts to win 78-62 with a 93% win probability).

The Knights have yet to play a close game this season while the Cats emerged victorious in a close game at Purdue early in the week.  How will UCF respond if the game remains close down the stretch?

When comparing the two teams from a Four Factors perspective:

VUSports (data per

... a few things stand out:

  • Villanova has been playing average defense and winning games with highly efficient offense
  • The ‘Nova defense hasn’t been turning teams over at a high rate but the Cats have taken great care of the rock
  • The Cats have not been offensive rebounding well
  • ‘Nova hasn’t been drawing a lot of fouls to get to the line with any frequency
  • The UCF defense has been very good at holding opponents to a low FG%
  • UCF has been very good at avoiding fouling opponents

Other stats that pop out: UCF is off to a slow start at the FT line - shooting 64.6% as a team.  The Knights don’t get a lot of steals while opposing defenses grab a fair number of steals off UCF.

The Knights have five players that play the majority of their minutes and four of them are averaging double figures.

B.J. Taylor (6-2, 200 lb) (17.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 44.4% 3PFG)  Their PG and team leader.

Tacko Fall (7-6, 300 lb, Soph) Averages 17.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 3.7 bpg, 75% FG, 25%FT.  He is a big reason why the Knights hold opponents to such a low shooting percentage.  Can ‘Nova get him in foul trouble?  Is fouling him a good strategy given his career 50% FTs?  103.7 ORtg.  Great shot blocker and rebounder.

Tanksley Efianayi (6-6, 210 lb, Sr)  Averaging 15.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg.  Shooting only 26.7% from beyond the arc.  96.6 ORtg.

Matt Williams (6-5, 220 lb, Sr)  Averaging 13.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 40.9% 3PFG).  Has a very efficient, 124.7 ORtg.  Shoots the majority of his FG attempts from beyond the arc.

Nick Banyard (6-8, 225 lb) (7.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.7 apg)  Very good rebounder.  Doesn’t aggressively pursue his own shots.  108.9 ORtg.

The other three players in the UCF rotation are:

Chad Brown (14.3 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg)  Hasn’t shot from outside the arc yet.  Solid 121.9 ORtg as he sticks to shooting the high percentage looks around the rim.  

Nathan Laing (14.0 mpg, 0.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg)  Has struggled from an A/TO perspective and has an abysmal 36.8 ORtg through three games.

Djordjije Mumin (7.0 mpg)

Four UCF players (Fall, Taylor, Efianayi, and Williams) carry the vast majority of the scoring load - they take the shots and are relied on to score.  Lanyard and the bench players are complementary to those players and should only be expected to take shots of opportunity.  B.J. Taylor plays over 80% of the minutes at the PG spot and Banyard plays over 85% of the  minutes at the PF position.  Fall plays over 60% of the minutes at the 5 and when he is in he takes over 30%Shots … his back-up, Chad Brown takes essentially one-third as many shots as Fall.  Essentially, the Knights have two quite different looks on offense - the one with Fall that pounds the ball to him in the paint and the more perimeter oriented / balance offense that is played when Brown is in for Fall.

Expect the Cats to pressure the ball quite a bit - both to try to create turnovers and to make it harder for UCF to feed Fall in the low post.  Can ‘Nova turn the Knights over enough to make up for what is likely to be a substantial deficit in the offensive rebounding department?  

Expect the Cats to continue to stretch the defense and look for high quality three-point attempts.   Will ‘Nova try to attack the rim and get Fall in foul difficulty?  Can the Cats continue their hot shooting from beyond the arc?

If the game gets close down the stretch, both teams have key players with experience but ‘Nova has the advantage at the free-throw line.

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