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Villanova Meets Tennessee in Preseason NIT Championship: Predicting the Outcome

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 24:  Corey Fisher #10 of the Villanova Wildcats drives past Lazeric Jones #11 of the UCLA Bruins during their preseason NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden on November 24, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Justin KundratCorrespondent INovember 26, 2010

UCLA was the first to fall to the new and improved Villanova squad.

People were expecting a repeat of last year, where we beat up on weak teams but flopped against the higher caliber ones. Yet they couldn't have been more wrong.

The Wildcats started out hot and never looked back.

The Bruins simply had no answer for Corey Fisher and his 26 points or Mouph, who had a career high 13 points and 16 rebounds.

Tennessee, however, should pose a much greater threat.

The Vols are freakishly athletic and LOVE to play a full court press on defense. They thrive off opponents' turnovers and will push the ball whenever possible.

Two guys, 6'7 Scotty Hopson and 6'8 Tobias Harris, will be the focus of our defensive efforts as both will present some serious challenges.

Our problem will be finding guys to guard them since Stokes doesn't have the length and Pena is simply too slow.

Armwood should be relied upon heavily at times, but he lacks the defensive IQ to be a lock down defender at this stage in his career.

The number one focus should be containing them; if we can't, then we will have serious problems.

However, Tennessee does have some big flaws which can be easily exposed by our guards.

Their 3-point shooting is horrendous, at just 25.4% this season. So tightening our defense could help in securing rebounds and preventing second chance opportunities.

They also lack a real point guard, and have for a few years now, which leads to turnover problems. Trae Golden, a 6'1 freshman, is the closest thing they have right now, but he's averaging less than 20 minutes a game and hasn't seen anything like our guards.

So while their long, athletic forwards will create problems for us, our highly regarded backcourt will counter with scoring of their own.

In the end, the winner will be the team who takes better care of the ball. Tennessee, who places an emphasis on beating opponents off their own mistakes, has a pretty big turnover problem themselves since they lack a point guard.

Sounds like a perfect chance for our guards to do their damage.

Vegas currently sees Villanova as 6 point favorites, which seems pretty accurate.

Tennessee is better than UCLA, but will have their hands full if our guards can beat the press. They will have no answer for Wayns and Fisher, who will do more damage than both Hopson and Harris.

In short, it's a typical battle between guards and forwards in which an up-tempo game will give us the edge.

Prediction: Villanova 80 Tennessee 74

www.novabasketballreport.com

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