Villanova will attempt to pull out of its tailspin tonight as they face the University Of South Florida Bulls in Madison Square Garden. Tip off is at 7pm and will be the third game of the first round of the Big East tournament. The winner of this matchup will face Cincinnati tomorrow night at seven.
If Villanova's 9-9 Big East record was a disappointment, USF's 3-15 conference record was doubly so. Overall the Bulls finished at 9-22, which included some overtime losses to top 25 teams like UConn and BYU. So while they haven't been a particularly good team this year, USF has been competitive. Their top scorer is junior forward Augustus Gilchrist who scores 13 ppg and grabs 6.5 rebounds a game.
For Villanova, a big part of their late season swoon were the injuries to the two Coreys. Corey Stokes has been nursing a hamstring injury since early February and re-aggravated it in practice last week. The injury held him out of the teams' final game against Pittsburgh. Jay Wright says that Stokes is a gametime decision, but that the isn't going to take any chances with his ailing hamstring.
"I don’t think that the way we play and who we’re going to play, meaning South Florida, that Stokes at 70 percent is not going to help us and it’s not going to help him," Wright said. "That’s the type of injury that, if he plays at 70 percent, he could rip it and then you don’t have him at all. He’s either going to be 100 percent or he’s not going to play."
The Wildcats are favored by 9.5 in the game.
Matchup history from The Nova Blog
Villanova has never lost to South Florida in their brief 5 game history. In the most recent meeting, back in January of this year at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla., five players scored in double figures for Villanova in a 83-71 win. Corey Stokes was the high scorer with 22 points. Maalik Wayns also played well, scoring 16 points and dishing out 9 assists.