Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#603 Villanova 132.5 vs.
#604 Ohio State -1
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Chris Altruda

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#603 Villanova University
#604 Ohio State University
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No. 10 Villanova at No. 16 Ohio State

When and Where: Wednesday, Nov. 13, Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio, 7 p.m. EST.

Both No. 10 Villanova and 16th-ranked Ohio State square off in an early season measuring-stick game Wednesday night as part of the Gavitt Games between Big East and Big Ten teams.

Robinson-Earl shines in debut for Villanova

The Wildcats continue to reload as opposed to rebuild as coach Jay Wright tries to integrate a highly touted freshman class with holdovers who were role players trying to become key cogs.

In Villanova's season-opening 97-54 thrashing of Army on Nov. 5, however, it was freshman forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl who took center stage, totaling 24 points and 13 rebounds in just 27 minutes. Robinson-Earl had 15 points and nine rebounds in the opening half, during which the Wildcats took control with a 16-0 burst and opened a 49-26 halftime lead.

"We knew that if we didn't come and play hard, they can run at you," Wright told Villanova's official website after starting two freshmen for the first time since 2002. "They're tough. When they get it going up and down, they can really wear you out. I thought we did a really good job of running with them, getting back on defense. We had our lapses and have a lot to improve on but it was a good start for us."

The other freshman, Justin Moore, had eight points and four assists. Sophomore Saddiq Bey added 22 points and junior Collin Gillespie shook off a rough first half to score all 11 of his in the second. Villanova shot 52 percent for the game and hit 12 of 30 from 3-point range.

“We need as many game situations and experiences as possible,” Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer after practice Tuesday. “That’s why this Ohio State game is going to be great for us, just get on the road, another game situation, quality opponent, and learn from it, win or lose.

“For a young team, it’s not bad getting to practice, to be honest. Every chance we can get to practice is good for us.”

One of Villanova's other prized freshmen, Bryan Antoine, was cleared to practice last week after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum May 31.

Villanova has won two of its three previous Gavitt Games appearances but was crushed 73-46 by Michigan at home in last season's edition.

Holtman well-versed in Villanova's ways as Buckeyes look to go 3-0

Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann knows all about Wright and Villanova -- he faced the Wildcats twice a season for three seasons coaching Big East rival Butler before taking the Ohio State job in 2017.

"It's going to be hard," Holtmann told Sports Illustrated's Buckeye Maven. "They are great -- not good -- they are elite at keeping the ball out of the post. They are an elite defensive team, but they are elite at keeping the ball out of the post. Even when you think you have a mismatch, they are tremendous at it."

Holtmann has guided the Buckeyes (2-0) to NCAA Tournament appearances in both his seasons in Columbus and is off to a positive start after wins over Cincinnati and Massachusetts-Lowell. The latter victory came Sunday when Kaleb Wesson had 13 points and 13 rebounds in a 76-56 victory, leading five players in double figures in scoring.

The Buckeyes also limited the River Hawks to 32.8 percent shooting and have conceded just 112 points in their two wins. Ohio State has contested well on the perimeter, holding opponents to 20.5 percent shooting from 3-point range (9 for 44).

Wesson continues to be a bull in the paint, with the 6-foot-9, 270-pound junior averaging 10.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in the first two games. Fellow junior Kyle Young leads the team in scoring at 12 points per game and has also pulled down 17 rebounds.

"Kaleb is one of the best centers in the country," sophomore guard Duane Washington said. "If the focus is going to be on him, he needs to be ready for it, double-teams, traps, whatever they try to send at him. We've been preparing for that since the summer and we prepared last year for it. The more you prepare for it, the better you'll be."

Ohio State has won both times it participated in the Gavitt Games, beating Providence at home in 2016 and winning at Creighton last season.

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This has the feel of a game that will come down to a final possession, and the teams are somewhat evenly matched. How Villanova deals with Wesson in the paint will be pivotal as Wright has the frontcourt depth to throw bodies and fouls at the Buckeyes forward.

The game will also be Robinson-Earl's first real challenge, but it would be more likely Gillespie and Bey step up to be the first two options offensively. The Wildcats may not win this game, but they also will not get rattled in a hostile venue and should keep it close.

Prediction: Villanova +3

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Ohio State plays excellent defense, and that is something that should continue in this game. Villanova plays sneaky-good defense -- it led the Big East in points allowed per game (67.4) in 2018-19 and did a good job keeping opponents off the foul line as opponents scored only 11 points per game at the charity stripe.

This game will be about hard work on both ends of the court and a grind-down game which should help the under deliver. Per Covers.com, the under is 11-4-1 in Villanova's last 16 non-conference games and 4-1 in Ohio State's last five versus Big East foes.

Prediction: UNDER 131
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.