Sixers vs. Heat Game Preview (2/23/13)

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King James comes to town Saturday night.

To be the champ…oh, let’s not kid ourselves.  Barring an act of divine interaction, Philadelphia will only be hoisting this season’s Larry O’Brien trophy in an EA sports video game.  With a small window of opportunity to make the playoffs coming out of the All-Star break, the Sixers decided they did not like the breeze in coming out flat in the loss to Minnesota.  Fortunately for Philadelphia, the 8th place Bucks lost close games to Brooklyn both Tuesday and Wednesday night and only hold a 3.5 game lead over the Sixers.  That’s where the good news ends, however.  First, Milwaukee made the biggest splash of a relatively quiet trade deadline in acquiring J.J. Redick as part of a six-player deal with Orlando.  Redick, who ranks 11th in the NBA in three-pointers made (and likely leads the league in poetry slam books), will greatly shore up an area of weakness for a team currently ranked just 21st in the NBA in 3PT% at 34.8%.  The move strengthens the Bucks for the stretch run, further reducing the odds of a Sixers comeback.

In addition to that encouraging news, the defending champion Miami Heat and the best player in the NBA and odds-on favorite for MVP, Lebron James, are coming to town Saturday night to pay the Sixers a visit.  Lebron is in the midst of a truly historic stretch of play during the month of February in which Miami has gone 9-1.  In his ten games this month, he’s averaged 30.2 ppg on 66.3% shooting, 7.6 rpg, and 6.7 apg.  The only thing James has done wrong this month is get absolutely eaten alive by Kobe in the all-star game.  Besides the extraordinary performance Lebron has put together this season, Dwayne Wade has also been phenomenal, averaging 20.9 ppg on 50.4% shooting, 4.9 rpg, and 4.8 apg.  To put these totals in perspective, only 6 players in the NBA are currently averaging at least 20 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 4.5 apg (James, Wade, Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Bryant).  So to say the Sixers will be at a talent disadvantage in this match-up would be like saying tickets for the Jay-Z / Justin Timberlake concerts will be in-demand.

Keys to the game:

  • Not lately, but earlier in the season, Miami was prone to taking games off against lower-profile teams.  Hope that is the case in this game and bring the energy early to build a lead before Miami really tightens the screws.
  • Do everything possible to get the ball out of the hands of James and Wade, and force the Heat to win with outside shots from Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and the rest of Miami’s supporting cast.  Those players may very well hurt you but it beats the alternative of having Lebron doing Lebron things all game long.

Prediction: The Sixers will be crowned by the King as the Heat win in a rout.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/23/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Yesterday’s Action

After trailing by four at halftime, Pennsylvania used a strong second half and efficient three-point shooting (10-19 for the game) to take down Cornell 79-71.  The victory was just the Quakers’ third road win of the year as well as their third victory in its past four games, and moved them to .500 in Ivy League play.  Freshman Tony Hicks scored a career-high 29 points, including shooting 5-6 from downtown, while Miles Cartwight had a strong all-around game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and a season-high-tying 9 assists.

Today’s Action

12:00 pm: Drexel (11-16, 7-8 CAA) @ Towson (15-13, 10-5 CAA)

Coming off its toughest loss of the season in a double-overtime defeat at Delaware, the Dragons travel to Towson to take on a surprising Tigers team that finds itself second in the conference following a 1-31 record last season.  Much of the turnaround can be attributed to the arrival of Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon, who leads the team in points (16.6), rebounds (11.3), and assists (2.6).  Benimon posted an 18-16 double-double in the teams’ first meeting January 5th, a 69-66 Towson victory.  Drexel could not hit the ocean from the beach in that game shooting 33.9% from the field and only sinking 20 of its 34 free throws (58.8%).  Keeping Benimon under wraps and duplicating the effort from the first match-up in getting to the charity stripe (and hitting some more) will be the keys to a Dragons’ victory.

4:00 pm: St. Joseph’s (14-10. 5-6 Atlantic 10) vs. George Washington (12-12, 6-5 Atlantic 10)

The Hawks are back in action tonight after a full week off facing the Colonials in the teams’ only meeting of the season.  George Washington bosts the 37th stingiest defense in the country and is a top 50 rebounding club.  Junior Isaiah Armwood is the embodiment of that rugged style leading the Colonials in points (11.9), rebounds (8.7), and blocks (2.5).  Despite its defensive acumen, the game will be a clash of tempos as GW ranks among the fastest 100 teams in terms of pace while St. Joe’s drops in at 296th.  St. Joseph’s would prefer to slow the game down and work the clock against the Colonials’ defense for good shots.  Currently tied for 10th place in the Atlantic 10, the Hawks cannot afford to drop a home game against a middle-of-the-pack conference foe if it wishes to avoid missing the Atlantic 10 tournament entirely.

6:00 pm: Villanova (17-10, 8-6 Big East) vs. Marquette (19-6, 10-3 Big East) – ESPN2

In their lone contest of the 2012-13 regular season, the immovable object will meet the unstoppable force as Villanova’s 38th-ranked defense will look to slow down Marquette’s top 20 offense.  Amongst a crowded top of the Big East standings, Villanova finds itself only 2.5 games out of first and 1.5 games back of Louisville for 4th place and the coveted double-bye in the conference tournament.  The Wildcats find themselves in that position having won 4 of their past 5 games and will look to notch another victory over a ranked opponent following big wins last month over Lousiville and Syracuse.  These wins are the type that make a team impossible for the NCAA tournament selection committee to ignore.

7:00 pm: Pennsylvania (7-18, 4-4 Ivy) @ Columbia (10-13, 2-7 Ivy)

The Quakers are back in action again tonight against the Columbia Lions (you have to admire the Ivy League actually caring about the student portion of student-athlete and having conference games played Friday and Saturday, unlike nearly everyone else caring mainly about money).  Pennsylvania already defeated Columbia earlier this month at home 62-58.  Lions’ leading scorer Brian Barbour scored 21 points in that match-up but was topped by Miles Cartwright’s 22 points including 10-10 from the foul line.  The Quakers as a team shot 26-29 from the charity stripe in that game which proved to be the difference in the outcome.  If Pennsylvania duplicates that effort in attacking the basket and Tony Hicks continues to expand his game toward the end of his freshman season, the Quakers should travel back to Philadelphia victorious.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/22/13)

City 6 Cup 2

 

Yesterday’s Action

Check out our recap of last night’s clash between Temple and La Salle.

in the world of basketball, there are tough losses, and then there are double-overtime defeats that leave a team with an empty feeling in the pit of their stomachs.  Unfortunately for Dragons’ fans, the latter went down last night as Drexel fell to Delaware 73-71 after playing two extra frames.  Drexel had its chances to win as a Frantz Massenat jumper was blocked with 2 seconds left in regulation and Tavon Allen missed on a three-point attempt with 9 seconds left in the first overtime before the Blue Hens put the game away in double overtime.

Drexel fought back after being down 7 at halftime behind 25 points and 11 rebounds from Damion Lee in only his second double-double of the season.  The Dragons did not shoot well at all as a team, collectively going 25-72 (34.7%) from the field (and only 6-23 from downtown).  Drexel had no answer for Delaware’s Devon Saddler who collected 31 points, playing aggressively all night in getting to the line 15 times, sinking 11 free throws.   The Blue Hens’ Jamelle Hagins collected big rebound after big rebound, tallying 18 in all.  The Dragons will have to put this loss quickly out of their minds as they play at Towson at noon Saturday.

Today’s Action

7:00 PM: Pennsylvania (6-18, 3-4 Ivy) @ Cornell (13-12, 5-3 Ivy)

The Quakers come into tonight’s game having won 2 of its 3 previous games for the first time all season.  Pennsylvania will face a Cornell team it lost to by 2 earlier this month on a jumper by Cornell’s Galal Cancer with 10 seconds left.  The Quakers moved the ball around extremely well in that game, recording assists on 24 of their 28 field goals.  However, Pennsylvania did not take care of the rock committing 16 turnovers and were not aggressive in getting to the basket as the team only attempted a total of 3 free throws.  This is not your older brother’s Cornell team who reached the Sweet 16 in 2010; if the Quakers shore up a couple of those mistakes from the earlier meeting, they can come out victorious and continue their modest run of the success in conference play.

Temple Rules the Roost in Final Big 5 Game

Philly Fast Break was in the house for the final Big 5 match-up of the season.

Philly Fast Break was in the house for the final Big 5 match-up of the season.

As we approached the arena, a group of La Salle fans climbed up from the subway chanting ‘**** You Temple’ into the cold Philadelphia night.  Clearly these kids had consumed a few road sodas on the way to the game, but it still spoke to the anticipation for this important match-up and the heated rivalry between Big 5 foes.  As a matter of fact, the box office attendant informed us they were sold out for the game.  You might think it was due to dollar dog night, or the groupon offer earlier in the week, but fans from both sides knew how crucial this game was with the Big 5 title on the line and Atlantic 10 positioning at stake.

Two laps around the arena found a scalper with two tickets together at a reasonable price and we were in.  Early on in the first half, Ramon Galloway answered a Khalif Wyatt three-pointer with a long three of his own, and then turned to the Temple student section and made the three goggles signal to his forehead.  Unfortunately for Explorers’ fans, it was a lone bright spot for the team.  Throughout the game, the Owls established their dominance on the glass, taking advantage of an undersized La Salle lineup in out-rebounding the Explorers 41-24 (15 to 6 on the offensive end).  Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was the brightest star for Temple with game-highs of 23 points and 18 rebounds, while Scootie Randall exploited smaller guards defending him as he tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds.

After falling behind by 19 in the second half, La Salle began picking up their men full court in a effort to speed up the game.  This tactic was effective as the Explorers were able to get within as close as 9 on a few occasions (before a meaningless 3 at the final buzzer cut it to 8).  However, a couple dagger threes from Wyatt, who finished with 17 points, and continued dominance from Hollis-Jefferson allowed Temple to keep La Salle at arms-length throughout in securing the victory 82-74.  The game ended Big 5 play for the season with La Salle and Temple finishing as co-champions at 3-1 each.

As with most college games, the main appeal is experiencing the passion and energy of the student body.  The Temple student section (dubbed the Cherry Crusade) used its roll-outs to spoof the Bad Luck Brian twitter account, a fake profile detailing good things that happen to Brian but ironically turn out bad.  The ‘Bad Luck Explorer’ roll-outs throughout the night were as follows:

  • Gets D1 scholarship…To La Salle football. Rollout
  • Gets homecoming ticket…to Tom Gola.
  • Thinks they are the best… asks twitter for roll-out ideas.
  • Finally on NBC… cut off for curling.
  • Goes to butler game…gets hit by “flying object”.
  • Complains about 200 tickets…Doesn’t have the entourage to fill it.
  • Thinks its their city…really our city.

However, my favorite sign was a large photo of Dwight Schrute saying “False“, which the fan held up whenever there was a call he disagreed with on the court.

Schrute

All in all, a great atmosphere tonight and a welcome reminder of the passion coinciding with the college game.  La Salle will look to bounce back Sunday at Rhode Island while Temple will look to keep things going at Charlotte.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/21/13)

City 6 Cup 2

 

Today’s Action

7:00 PM: Drexel (11-15, 7-7 CAA) @ Delaware (14-13, 9-5 CAA) – NBC Sports Network

On January 28th, Drexel lost a heartbreaker at home to the Blue Hens, 66-64, despite Damion Lee recording a career-high 30 points.  The Dragons’ downfall was an ice-cold shooting performance from the field, shooting 34.4% (27.9% excluding Lee), compared to Delaware which shot an efficient 50.9% for the game.

Drexel will want to slow the game down in tonight’s re-match; Delaware plays at the 69th highest tempo in D-1 whereas the Dragons’ tempo comes in at 311th.  The first match-up was played at Delaware’s pace with each team recording 67 possessions.  If Drexel can conform the game to its style and shoot the ball closer to its 41.6% season average, the Dragons have a good chance to pull out a victory.  A win would bring Drexel within one game of Delaware for the 3rd seed in the conference tournament with 3 regular season games remaining.

7:00 PM: Temple (17-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10) vs. La Salle (18-6, 8-3 Atlantic 10) – CBS Sports Network

The Owls host Big 5 rivals La Salle in the teams’ only meeting of the season with a lot on the line.  Not only is every game crucial for these Philadelphia foes as both teams find themselves on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, there are also conference and Big 5 implications at stake.  La Salle currently finds itself only one game back of Saint Louis for first place in the A-10 while Temple can pull within one game of La Salle for 4th place in the conference with a victory (significant with the top 4 teams receiving a first round bye in the A-10 tournament).  However, the Owls are also presently situated only 2 games ahead of 13th-place St. Bonaventure which would drop them out of the conference tournament entirely.  Finally, a La Salle victory would clinch a Big 5 title and their first 4-0 outright Big 5 title since 1989-90, while a Temple victory would mean a shared title between the two teams.  I’ll be in attendance at tonight’s game so I’m sure to come away with key insights and a stomach full of dollar dogs.

Sixers Freeze Up in Minnesota

Without Kevin Love, 'The Godfather' came up huge for Minnesota.

Without Kevin Love, ‘The Godfather’ came up huge for Minnesota.

Evan Turner spent his all-star break on vacation in the Bahamas.  Five seconds into the game, Turner looked to still have his mind there as Andrei Kirilenko raced behind him for a lay-up off a half-court dish from Ricky Rubio.  Turner was not alone as the entire Sixers team looked to still be on vacation allowing Minnesota to race out to a 35-25 advantage after one quarter.

In that first quarter and throughout the game, Sixers fans were treated to the Nikola Pekovic show, who we learned goes by the nickname of ‘The Godfather’ in Minnesota.  After every Pekovic basket, the PA announcer chanted Nikola to the tune of the horn from the Ricola commercials while also occasionally mixing in the theme music from The Godfather.  We heard that PA horn often in the first half, with Pekovic posting a double-double by halftime with 14 points and 11 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive end.  Together with Derrick Williams, who tallied 12 points and 5 rebounds in the first 24 minutes, the Minnesota front court absolutely dominated Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen early and often.

Desperate to slow down Pekovic and Williams, Doug Collins opted to start Kwame Brown and Damian Wilkins in place of Hawes and Lavoy Allen to start the 2nd half.  You know it’s an emergency when Collins decides to break out Kwame Brown.  Ultimately, this move didn’t amount to much as the Minnesota front court still did its damage.  However, the Sixers were able to bring back the deficit to single digits when Evan Turner got hot and dropped 14 points in the third quarter.

The Sixers eventually got their defense in gear in a big way as they prevented the Timberwolves from making a single field goal over the final 11 minutes, 43 seconds of the game.  Unfortunately, the early deficit proved too big to overcome as Philadelphia could draw no closer than 4 points, ultimately falling 94-87.  It proves when you come into a game missing key players, you can’t come out slow and not play a full 48 minutes.

Pekovic’s final tally was 27 points and a career-high tying 18 rebounds.  For Philadelphia, Jrue Holiday played through foul trouble to record 16 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals, Evan Turner finished with 19 points (most of that coming in the aforementioned third quarter), and Damian Wilkins gave the Sixers good minutes off the bench with 13 points.

On a postivie note, viewers at home were treated to video of Thad Young looking spry in warm-ups earlier in the day.  Hopefully, he’s able to return sooner than later with a Sunday comeback against the Knicks being reported as the earliest possible date of return.  The thin and overmatched Sixers front court could greatly use his return.

Sixers Once Again Pass On Josh Smith

Fans won't be seeing Josh Smith in a Sixers uniform this season.

Fans won’t be seeing Josh Smith in a Sixers uniform this season.

News came out today that the Sixers reportedly declined a trade offer from the Atlanta Hawks of Josh Smith for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes.  Sixers fans may remember the team brought the 6’9″ power forward to town during the 2008 offseason when he was a restricted free agent.  Ultimately, Josh Smith re-signed with Atlanta as Philadelphia signed free-agent Elton Brand and the rest was middle-of-the-pack history.  With the team once again opting against bringing Smith aboard, let’s examine the pros and cons of such a deal.

As a disclaimer, Spencer Hawes is far and away my least favorite player on the SIxers.  I hate how he frequently gets out-muscled by smaller players for rebounding position and his soft finishing around the rim.  The only time I ever enjoyed watching Hawes on a basketball court was when he was sporting his legendary mullet.  Evan Turner also often draws my ire, whether pulling up for his flat jump shot with 18 seconds left on the shot clock or doing his bull in a china shop routine driving the lane (which involves a head-down drive right into the defender, throwing up a wild shot, and then pouting to the ref with out-stretched arms after the whistle remains silent).  Speaking purely as a fan watching the games, I would have traded the pair for a bag of basketballs and then gave the balls to the courier as a tip.  However, during this analysis, you need to look at things from a franchise perspective and maximizing all of its assets.  How would this trade have affected the team’s prospects both short-term (the rest of this current season) and long-term (the 2013-14 season and beyond)?

Short-Term

Josh Smith is a very effective offensive player on the blocks and an absolute terror in the open court; I could get lost day-dreaming about Jrue throwing lobs to Smith on the break.  That being said, Josh Smith is a terrible fit for the Sixers in the sense that the team has a similar player already starting at power forward in Thad Young.  Both are undersized fours who make up for a lack of height with elite quickness and athleticism.  Take a look at the stats for the two players on the season:

Player MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT% 3P% Usage PER
Smith 35.7 17.4 8.6 4.1 1.2 2.2 46.0% 50.0% 35.4% 26.7% 17.21
Young 35.5 14.9 7.4 1.7 1.6 0.9 52.2% 57.0% 20.0% 19.7% 17.80

Smith dominates the ball more on offense accounting for the greater number of assists and slightly higher scoring output, while also being a more active weak-side shot blocker.  He is a much more polished post player but still has a terrible habit of taking too many long jumpers.  On the other hand, Young puts up similar numbers with a much lower usage rate and actually has a slightly higher Player Efficiency Rating thus far this season.

Unfortunately, a front line of Young and Smith would not work from a size standpoint; so while you could certainly play a small portion of the game with a big lineup of Young, Smith, and one of Bynum (if healthy)/Allen/Moultrie, the insertion of Smith would cut into Thad’s minutes (more or less a null gain based on this season’s stats).

Regarding the players the Sixers would have given up, despite his flaws, Hawes has been an average center on the season with a 15.12 PER that currently ranks 33rd among NBA centers.  With Bynum still sidelined and a hypothetical Hawes departure, Philadelphia would be forced to divide minutes at the 5 between Allen, Moultrie, and Kwame Brown.  Allen and Moultrie are really better off playing the power forward position and Brown is a $6M mistake.  Of course, a healthy Bynum would solve this problem but you could have said that about a lot of the Sixers problems this season.  In Evan Turner, the Sixers would lose another valuable rebounder but a player who continues to struggle with his shot (42.7 FG% and only 48.7% True Shooting Percentage) and ranks 37th among small forwards with only a 12.76 PER.  I would think Dorell Wright (14.07 PER) could soak up and improve upon Turner’s minutes after mysteriously falling into Doug Collins’ doghouse.

Verdict: Neutral.  Smith is a horrible fit with our roster and Philadelphia would lose valuable size and rebounding in Hawes and Turner, two attributes in short supply for the Sixers.  Ideally, seeing that Turner and Hawes have trade value, management would find a player who worked better within the confines of the current roster.  It doesn’t look like that is their mindset though based on current reports.  In hypothetical trade world, I do love to think about the athleticism and defensive potential of a Smith-Young-Bynum front court for 10-15 minutes a game; that line-up would be fun to watch.  Ultimately, the team is floundering either way if Bynum is injured so why not go with the more aesthetically pleasing option and the Josh Smith high-wire act.

Long-Term

Taking a look at the salaries of the three players reportedly involved in the offer, Turner is signed through 2013-14 for $6.7M, Hawes is under contract through 2013-14 for $6.5M, and Smith is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.  As discussed earlier, Josh Smith is not a good fit with Thad Young on the team so I would not look to re-sign him.  Shedding the Turner and Hawes contracts would leave the Sixers with $33M committed to Holiday, Young, Richardson, Brown, Allen, and Moultrie.  Next year’s salary cap is still undetermined but will likely be in the $60M to $70M range.  Philadelphia would have more than enough space to offer Bynum or another star a max contract as well as sign a couple wings at mid-level deals and fill out the bench.

Verdict: Pro-Trade.  Hawes and Turner have their uses as part of a rotation but were both overpaid in my opinion.  Freeing up cap space would be a preferable option to keeping the pair around.  However, management is likely not of that mindset considering just this past offseason, it signed Hawes to the two-year deal and picked up Turner’s option.

It looks like we’ll be watching the same-look Sixers tomorrow night in Minnesota.  In your opinion, should the Sixers have pulled the trigger?  Discuss in the comments below.

Sixers-Timberwolves Game Preview (2/19/13)

The Sixers take on Minnesota with Kevin Love confined to the bench.

The Sixers take on Minnesota with Kevin Love confined to the bench.

In their first game following the NBA all-star break, the Sixers travel to Minnesota to take on the European All-Stars Wednesday night at 8pm.  Hopefully, Jrue gleaned some tips from LeBron on his Cleveland days and how best to lead a team with a limited supporting cast with Thad Young likely still out and Andrew Bynum’s status still up in the air.  A full-strength Minnesota squad is a match-up nightmare for Philadelphia with aggressive big men who clean the glass on both ends.  In the teams’ first meeting this season, the Timberwolves out-rebounded the Sixers 47-40 while also shooting 13-25 from downtown in a 105-88 blow-out that wasn’t even as close as that score indicates.  However, no one would confuse a 19-31 Minnesota squad with a formidable opponent and this is the type of game the Sixers must absolutely win if they’re going to climb back into the playoff picture.

Fortunately for Philadelphia, the Timberwolves are not fully healthy as Kevin Love remains out with a broken hand and Andrei Kirilenko has missed the last 5 games with a quadriceps injury, although the team has maintained he would return following the all-star break.  Also, the 3-point shooting from the previous match-up was a huge outlier as Minnesota ranks dead last in the league this season at 30.1% from behind the arc.  Mickael Gelabale, who has been starting in place of the injured Kirilenko, is the only player on the team with an above-average 3PT% at 42.3%.

One thing going against the Sixers in this match-up is that Ricky Rubio finally appears to be rounding into form following his return from an ACL injury, averaging 15.0 ppg, 10.0 apg, and 2.3 spg in his past 6 games.  Rubio is an absolute joy to watch play the game and as instinctive a passer as you’ll find in the league.  However, his shot is still very much a work in progress, with his 34.3% FG% right about at the 35.7% mark he set in his rookie season.  Also, while Rubio is a better defender than given credit for, he is still more of a gambler than a strong man-to-man defender.  Holiday should be able to get into the lane against him when the Sixers have the ball.

Keys to the game:

  • Holiday needs to win his match-up with Rubio.  Keep Ricky out of the lane in pick-and-roll situations and force him to take long jumpers.  Conversely, Jrue shouldn’t settle for deep twos and needs to get into lane and draw some fouls on Rubio in the process.  Although guards like Ridnour and Barea are solid rotation guys, they don’t impact the game in the way Rubio does.
  • The Sixers big men have to man up and keep strong rebounders like Pekovic and Kirilenko off the offensive glass.  As mentioned, the Timberwolves have struggled to shoot the rock this season so limiting their chances will go a long way to a Sixers victory.

Prediction: The absence of Kevin Love, who exploits the Sixers’ interior rebounding weakness as well as anyone in the league, proves huge and the Sixers win to start the second half of the season off right.

 

 

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/19/13)

City 6 Cup 2

 

Yesterday’s Action

Drexel (11-15, 7-7 CAA) defeated Hofstra (6-21, 3-11 CAA) last night 63-54 to move back to .500 in conference play and 1 game back of George Mason for the 4th seed and first round home court advantage in the conference tournament.  The Dragons won the game via the turnover battle, only committing 9  (3 below their season average of 12) while getting 12 steals in forcing the Pride into 19 turnovers on the evening.  Drexel jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead which never fell below 5 points the rest of the way.  The Dragons were led by Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat with 17 and 16 points, respectively.

In a comeback that may have kept their NCAA bubble hopes from bursting, Villanova (17-10, 8-6 Big East) repulsed Rutgers 71-63 (13-12, 4-10 Big East) late last night at the Pavilion.  The Wildcats made it hard on themselves, digging a 10 point deficit at halftime.  However, a 23-10 run saw them earn the lead midway through the second half.  Villanova won the game by playing aggressively on the offensive end and continuing to earn trips to the free throw line, shooting 25-36 from the charity stripe on the evening, as opposing to only allowing 15 attempts for the Scarlet Knights.  A balanced scoring attack saw all five started for the Wildcats reach double figures.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/18/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Today’s Action

7:00 PM: Drexel (10-15, 6-7 CAA) vs. Hofstra (6-20, 3-10 CAA) – NBC Sports Network

Having lost 3 of 4 February games, the Dragons will roll out the welcome mat for the Hofstra Pride, a team it defeated on the road January 23rd thanks to a half-court buzzer beater by Frantz Massenat.  Drexel will need to contain Hofstra’s Taran Buie (Penn State transfer and half brother of former Penn State guard Talor Battle), who tied a season-high with 29 points going 7-11 from behind the arc in the teams’ first meeting.

Drexel needs to take care of business against a team lower in the standings to build momentum toward the CAA conference tournament and best utilize its puncher’s chance at making the big dance.  Only 7 teams are eligible for the CAA conference tournament as ODU and Georgia State are banned due to announcing a conference change and UNC-Wilmington and Towson are prohibited from participation due to low APR scores.  Drexel currently sits at 5th in conference seeding, 2 games behind George Mason for a 4 seed and home court advantage in the first round.

9:00 PM: Villanova (16-10, 7-6 Big East) vs. Rutgers (13-11, 4-9 Big East) – ESPNU

Villanova, coming off its best road win of the season Saturday over Connecticut, will look to stay the course at home against the struggling Scarlet Knights in the teams’ only meeting of the season.  Saturday’s win was a huge shot in the arm for the tournament chances of the Wildcats, a team currently projected to be on the bubble of the tournament field.  With 3 of its final 5 games coming against ranked opponents, it’s critical that Villanova hold serve tonight and continue to build its tournament resume.