Syracuse returns home after a two-game road trip to play Villanova, who comes to the Carrier Dome on Saturday on a seven-game winning streak.
MIDDLE OF THE ROAD: What has made the Big East one of the most dominant conferences over the last 10 years has been the depth of the conference. The Big East has been able to send double digit teams (a record 11 in 2011) to the NCAA tournament because as good as the top of the league has been, the middle of the league has also been tournament-worthy. Villanova is in that middle pack this season, but at one point during its non-conference schedule lost four of five games, including a blowout 75-57 loss to Columbia on Nov. 20. As a point of reference, the Lions are currently 8-6. But the Wildcats have rallied since then, and are on a seven game winning streak. One of those wins came against St. John’s, another middle-of-the-pack team that it will be competing against in the NCAA bubble come March.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Ryan Arcidiacono is currently second on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game. He was virtually unstoppable in the win against St. John’s, scoring 32 points on 7-13 shooting from downtown. Arcidiacono had to sit out last season after having surgery to repair a herniated disc that caused so much pain to shoot down his leg that he couldn’t even do simple things like fall asleep at night. Now that he’s back, the thing plaguing him has been consistency—he’s only shooting 34 percent from the field. Sixth man JayVaughn Pinkston has fully embraced his role, and leads Villanova in scoring with 13.3 ppg.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse leads the all-time series 37-31, and has won the last two matchups. The Orange topped the Wildcats on Jan. 11, 2012, 79-66. Dion Waiters scored 20 points in his return home to Philadelphia.
GAME INFORMATION: Saturday, January 12, 2013 at noon at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. TV: Big East Network/Time Warner/SNY.Wesley Cheng