By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pavilion (6,500) -- Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Television: FS1. Home Record: UP 1-2, VU 4-0. Away Record: UP 1-2, VU 0-0.
Neutral Record: UP 0-0, VU 3-0. Conference Record: UP 0-0, VU 0-0. Series
Record: VU leads, 43-17.
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Villanova Wildcats are set to take on the Penn
Quakers in the first Philadelphia Big 5 matchup of the season Wednesday night
at The Pavilion.
Villanova is perhaps the nation's hottest team at the moment, having knocked
off then second-ranked Kansas as well as No. 23 Iowa in back-to-back games to
win last week's Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. The Wildcats are a perfect
7-0 on the season and jumped all the way up to No. 14 in this week's
Top 25 poll, their first time being nationally ranked since coming in at No.
19 the week of Feb. 28, 2011.
Meanwhile, Penn has dropped three of its last four outings. The Quakers were
in action this past Saturday at Lafayette and came away with a hard-fought
79-76 loss. Tony Hicks had a good look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer in
the final seconds but his shot ultimately rimmed out. That game kicked off a
stretch that will see the Quakers play five of six in opposing gyms.
Villanova has won each of the last 10 meetings with Penn and owns a 43-17 lead
in the all-time series.
The Quakers shot 50.9 percent from the floor and went 14-of-15 at the charity
stripe against Lafayette, as they led by as many as nine with 13:28 to play in
regulation. However, the Leopards went on to drain 8-of-16 3-pointers in the
second half to come out on top. Senior Fran Dougherty led Penn with a season-
high 26 points to go along with nine rebounds, while Tony Hicks scored 16 in
Hicks leads the team with 19.0 points per game to pace four Quakers averaging
double figures. He is the team's only player to have scored in double figures
in each game so far this season, although four different players have led the
way in scoring through the first six games. Darien Nelson-Henry is next in
line with 13.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per tilt. As a team, Penn has shot 55
percent from the floor over its last two contests.
Senior wing James Bell headlined Villanova's win over Iowa, as he tallied 20
points and nine rebounds to go with a pair of blocks. But it was a series of
three consecutive 3-pointers in just over a minute during the second half that
trimmed the Nova's deficit from 12 points to three. The Wildcats eventually
won it in overtime, as five different players finished in double figures. Bell
was named MVP of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
On the season, Bell is averaging 17.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per tilt, while
JayVaughn Pinkston holds the team lead with 17.1 ppg.
Penn may be able to keep this one close against its city rival, but the
Wildcats are simply playing too well right now to pick against, especially at
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 75, Penn 57