[11:33 AM] Western Michigan v. #3 Villanova

Who will WIN this matchup?

#3 Villanova: Wins By 20+ Points

Any Other Result


Villanova survived its first big test of the season and the No. 3 Wildcats will next begin pursuit of their fourth straight in-season tournament title when they face Western Michigan in the opening round of the eight-team Charleston Classic in South Carolina. Villanova, the defending national champion, held off No. 15 Purdue, 79-76, on Monday night in West Lafayette, Ind., as Josh Hart scored 24 points and converted the final four free throws of the game.

Western Michigan’s first chore will be keeping Hart from gliding to the rim off the dribble, and the Broncos didn’t do a very good job against another 6-6 guard, Martez Walker of Oakland, who torched them for 21 points in a 77-60 win Monday night. The Broncos played considerably better in their season opener Friday against visiting Marygrove College, but that that was an NAIA school, leaps and bounds behind Villanova.

The Broncos have nine freshmen on their 15-man roster, so they’ll lean heavily on senior wing Tucker Haymond and junior guard Thomas Wilder. Haymond was second on the team in scoring last season at 15.9 points a game, though he struggled with his accuracy against Oakland, shooting 2-for-10 from the floor. Wilder led Western Michigan in scoring last season at 18 points a game, but he’s also trying to find his offensive rhythm while shooting 33.3 percent from the field through the first two games.

Hart will need help if Western Michigan decides to double or even triple team him, so the next best option might be fellow guard Phil Booth, who scored only seven points in each of the first two games, but remains on a pedestal after scoring a career-high 20 points off the bench in the NCAA Tournament championship game last March against North Carolina. Booth now starts for the Wildcats and a lingering knee injury that bothered him for much of last season has been surgically repaired, so it’s just a matter of time before he produces another big offensive number.

Western Michigan was picked to finish fifth in the six-team West Division in a preseason poll of the league’s coaches and media.


StreakSmarts Pick: #3 Villanova: Wins By 20+ Points

Confidence: 4/10

StreakSmarter Pick