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Preview: 'Nova - St. John's BET

VUSports previews Villanova taking on St. John's in the Big East Quarterfinals at Noon on Thursday at MSG ...

Villanova faces St. John’s on Thursday at Noon in the Quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden (TV: FS1, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).  

The Wildcats swept the two games in the regular season by winning 70-57 at Madison Square Garden and 92-79 at home despite committing a combined 43 turnovers.  Donte DiVincenzo averaged 19.5 PPG against the Johnnies this season and may attract more attention from the St. John’s defense.

Kenpom predicts an 84-68 win for Villanova with a 93% chance of ‘Nova grabbing a W.  ‘Nova trails the all-time series, 55-59.  The Cats are 17-1 over the last 18 games played between the two teams.

Keys for Villanova in this game:

1) defending aggressively for the full 40

2) rebounding

3) taking care of the rock

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per

a few things stand out:

 • St. John’s is an average team on both ends of the floor in Effective FG%

 • The Red Storm is not a very good offensive rebounding team - nor is Villanova but the Cats are better

 • SJU gets to the FT line more frequently than the Cats

 • The Johnnies defense creates turnovers - they certainly did in the first two match-ups with ‘Nova this season

other stats of interest:

 • The Cats continue to shoot the ball well from all three levels

 • Villanova is holding teams to 31.1% 3PFG shooting (21st nationally) … and prepare to face a St. John’s team  that is shooting a solid 36.3% from three on the flip side, the Johnnies shoot only 47.4% from two so the Cats may look to force them off the three-point line

 • St. John’s is a very good shot blocking team but the Cats don’t get blocked at a high rate

 • St. John’s is a young, inexperienced team

St. John’s player thumbnails:

Marcus Lovett (6-0, 175, Fr., 32.2 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 39.1% 3PFG, 46.7% FG, 80.3% FT, 108.5 ORtg)  The Frosh is playing very well across the board.  Other than a bit of a high turnover rate, he is playing effective basketball  He drains threes, distributes the ball, and has the ability to get to the FT line with some frequency and can his freebies when he gets there.  He can get very hot - has two games of 30+ points already in his career.

Bashir Ahmed (6-7, 210, Jr, 26.8 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 35.3% 3PFG, 39.1% FG, 68.3% FT, 96.1 ORtg,)  Ahmed takes a high percentage of shots when he is on the court.  These shots are pretty evenly spread between three-pointers and two-pointers and he, interestingly shoots a similar percentage from both regions.  Given that, the Cats should look to get him to put the ball on the deck.  He helps out on the defensive glass.

Shamorie Ponds (6-1, 170, Fr., 33.7 MPG, 17.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.1 SPG, 37.0% 3PFG, 44.5% FG, 82.8% FT, 114.9 ORtg)  The most efficient Johnny on offense.  Takes the majority of his shots from beyond the arc.  He is playing very well for a Frosh.  Solid A/TO numbers for a young guard, shooting well from all ranges and creating turnovers on defense.

Malik Ellison (6-6, 215, So., 24.5 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 36.1% 3PFG, 42.2% FG, 57.5% FT, 98.3 ORtg)  Good ball-handler and passer from the wing position.  Shooting the deep ball well so far this season.  Ellison is a cerebral player that can play multiple positions.

Tariq Owens (6-11, 200, So., 19.0 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 50.4% FG, 76.1% FT, 108.7 ORtg)  Provides shot-blocking and rebounding.  Owens is exclusively an inside threat on offense and remains a bit raw offensively.  

Federico Mussini (6-2, 170, So., 18.6 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 42.7% 3PFG, 41.0% FG, 84.6% FT, 110.2 ORtg)  He has seen his minutes reduced in relation to last season but he is playing more effectively in the minutes he does earn.  Stroking the deep ball well so far this season.   He seems to be shooting the ball better in part because he has been relieved of the chores of a primary ball-handler.

Kassoum Yakwe (6-7, 210, So., 20.6 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 42.5% FG, 61.4% FT,  92.2 ORtg)  Primarily a shot-blocker and defender.  Yakwe lacks offensive versatility but is doing a good job this season of sticking to what he can do on the offensive end. He is a great 5-man defensively but has the body of a modern 3-man.  His unpolished game leaves him as a ‘tweener positionally - but a good ‘tweener to have because shot-blocking skill is a rare commodity.

Amar Alibegovic (6-9, 240, Jr., 10.3 MPG, 1.8 RPG, 22.7% 3PFG, 40.0% FG, 53.8% FT, 89.7 ORtg)  Plays some back-up minutes at the five spot to take up space in the lane, rebound, screen and defend.  He lacks offensive punch.

Darien Williams (6-8, 235, Sr., 11.1 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 51.9% FG, 76.9% FT, 106.4 ORtg) The Senior has stepped up to provide some quality depth on the front line.  Plays within himself on offense.

Richard Freudenberg (6-9, 240, Fr., 9.2 MPG, 1.2 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 18.2% 3PFG, 23.9% FG, 75% FT, 66.3 ORtg)  Despite his large frame, Freudenberg prefers to shoot the ball from deep … he is one of the few St. John’s players that has struggled shooting the three so far this season.  The Frosh has done an okay job on the defensive glass but struggled to find a groove on offense.

Injuries: Phil Booth and Tim Delaney are expected to be out for Villanova. Top Stories