Men’s Basketball: UConn vs. No. 1 Villanova preview capsule

(Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: Noon, Saturday at XL Center in Hartford

Where to Watch: CBS, channel 3.1 on Storrs TV listings

Last Meeting: UConn won 77-65 in the round of 32 in the 2014 NCAA tournament. Villanova was a 2-seed, while UConn was a 7-seed.

UConn’s Last Time Out: 73-49 loss at Memphis on Tuesday

Villanova’s Last Time Out: 88-56 win at Georgetown on Wednesday

Projected Starting Lineups: UConn (10-8, 3-3 The American) vs. No. 1 Villanova (17-1, 5-1 Big East)

G: Jalen Adams vs. Phil Booth

Adams still leads UConn in scoring (18.5 points) and assists (4.2 per game), but his outing against Memphis was one of his worst of the season. Adams scored just 11 points in 35 minutes, and had two assists compared to four turnovers. Booth, a skilled defender, is one of five Wildcats playing more than 20 minutes per game to have a 3-point shooting percentage over 40 percent.

G: Christian Vital vs. Jalen Brunson

After jumping in and out of starting lineup in the season’s first half, Vital is now a full-time starter, and since American Athletic Conference play began, he has been the team’s second-best scorer at 16.7 points per game. Brunson is Villanova’s best player (18.8 points, 57 percent shooting, 48 percent from three) and continues to chase Trae Young in the Player of the Year race.

F: Antwoine Anderson vs. Mikal Bridges

Starting forward Terry Larrier sat out Tuesday with headaches and did not practice Thursday. Assuming he is unable to return for Saturday’s game, Anderson will likely take his place in the starting lineup, and he has plenty of room to improve after failing to make a field goal in 39 minutes his last time out. Bridges is second on the Wildcats with 17.4 points per game, leads the team in steals and sits second in both rebounds and blocks.

F: Isaiah Whaley vs. Omari Spellman

The freshman Whaley has solidified his grip on a starting position by continuing to play with energy while adding some defensive help. He had a versatile stat line against Memphis in 30 minutes: four points, two boards, two assists, four blocks and three steals. Spellman leads Villanova with 7.3 rebounds per game.

F: Josh Carlton vs. Eric Paschall

Carlton, like Whaley, has solidified a starting lineup in the frontcourt, and Tuesday he led UConn with 15 points and nine boards. Paschall is a defensive presence while also averaging 9.9 points per game on 50 percent shooting.

Talking Points

David vs. Goliath: UConn has played three games against ranked teams this season (Michigan State, Arizona, Wichita State) and lost all three by an average margin of 15 points per game. Meanwhile, Villanova just went to Washington D.C. and beat a decent Georgetown team by 32 points. They beat Xavier by 24 points last week. They’re the class of the Big East, and perhaps the nation, judging by their No. 1 ranking in both major polls. For the Huskies, winning Saturday will be an extraordinarily tall task.

Big East Redux: These two teams used to meet all the time when they both played in the old Big East Conference. Villanova holds a 33-31 edge in the all-time series, although UConn has won five of the last six meetings.

First of Three: Saturday’s meeting is the first of three scheduled between the two teams. They’ll meet next season at Madison Square Garden in New York City and the season after that at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

No More Non-Con: Villanova is UConn’s final non-conference opponent of the season, and they’ll return to duel American teams exclusively next Thursday. The Huskies are 7-5 in non-conference play, but 6-0 at home.


Tyler Keating is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu. He tweets @tylerskeating.