Canisius vs Villanova Preview and Prediction
Canisius vs Villanova Preview
Check out our ‘Best Players in the AdvoCare Invitational‘…four players in this matchup alone are highlighted.
As a writer who has covered the Canisius basketball program closely over the last four years, I must admit, I came into the 2018-19 season with a lot of expectations.
Through three games, I have been left unimpressed and honestly disappointed in the Griffs play.
Canisius sits at 1-2 on the young season with losses to UAlbany and No.14 Florida State after winning the season opener over Bucknell.
From the outside looking in, that’s not terrible—but if you have watched the games, you see a talented Canisius team that has not looked like a cohesive unit on the floor.
Don’t even get me started on the team’s shooting woes, because I have no explanation.
The season is still young and for a team like the Griffs, the real season begins in conference play. But a lot can change for the team if they pick up ONE victory during the AdvoCare Invitational.
That starts with the reigning National Champs, Villanova.
The Wildcats are limping into this game and the Tournament as a whole.
A blowout loss to a ranked Michigan team is one thing, but to lose in overtime to a Furman program that has a good team, but at the end of the day is Furman, is another.
Nova sits at 2-2 when they take on Canisius in the first game of the AdvoCare Invitational at 1:30 p.m. on Turkey Day.
When the schedule came out, I thought Canisius would be able to give Villanova all they can handle, and I want to still believe that looking at how Villanova is adjusting to life without their four leaders from the National Championship squad from a year ago.
But the Griffs will need to look like the team that took home a share of the regular season MAAC title a year ago.
Making shots, specifically three-pointers will be key.
Canisius’ Keys to Victory
Canisius is shooting 42 percent from the field and a dismal 32 percent from the three-point line.
A year ago, shooting and offensive flow was the lifeblood of success for the Griffs.
The Golden Griffins rely on two players for a majority of their offensive and defensive success: Isaiah Reese and Takal Molson.
Both have struggled to start the year, Reese more so than Molson.
If the Griffs are going to see success in this Invitational, those two players will need to make a serious impact.
Isaiah Reese 2017: 16.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 58% FG, 36% 3-PT.
Isaiah Reese 2018: 12.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 40% FG, 28% 3-PT.
If Reese can return to his 2017 form, Canisius is a legitimate force in the MAAC.
It seems to me that he is pressing too much, trying to do too much. Against FSU he seemed to lose his confidence knowing his shot was not falling. In the second half of that game, Reese was passing up open looks on a consistent basis.
We have seen other members of the team step up during Reese’s struggles, specifically sophomore forward Scott Hitchon who has hit career-high’s in points or rebounds every game this season.
He alone can’t will the Griffs to victories.
Villanova’s Keys to Victory
Villanova dropped from the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1st, 2013 this week, after their unexpected 2-2 start.
This year’s team was obviously going to take some work in that regard given the unusual roster turnover, but no one expected a start like this.
Just like the Griffs are struggling without help from their star, the same can be said for the Wildcats…
Eric Paschall has not been able to deliver consistently. After 26 points in the season opener against Morgan State (11 of which came from free throws), the senior forward scored 11, 10 and eight in three games over eight days, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he were not also accounting for nearly a quarter of the Wildcats’ field goal attempts. His identical 3-for-14 shooting efforts from the floor in Villanova’s two losses last week (including a 2-for-11 performance from three-point range against Furman) may just be a mini-slump, but it’s nevertheless tough to stomach as the offense crashes back to Earth around him.
Villanova’s freshmen may not be ready to make major contributions yet, which could mean trouble for a team that lost most of it’s key contributors from last season. ‘Nova’s vets are talented, don’t get me wrong, but they can only take the team so far.
Who will step up if Nova wants back into the Top 25 this season?
The Wildcats will no doubt be favored, and it will likely be similar to the FSU line of 18 points.
I had picked the Griffs to be able to cover against the Seminoles and that failed miserably, but this Wildcats team is not the same. They lack the cohesion, offensive firepower and length that Canisius struggled against FSU.
I can’t pick Canisius to win outright, but I sense a close battle against two teams desperate to get on the right track.
Villanova 78 Canisius 73