In the midst of their first mini-slump of the season, things are about to get even more difficult for No. 3 Villanova (23-3, 10-3), who travel to the Cintas Center on Saturday for a massive Big East clash against No. 4 Xavier (24-3, 12-2).
Tip is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for a free trial of one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to an extensive Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including Fox (live in select markets). You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
FuboTV: Fox (live in select markets) is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app.
DirecTV Now: Fox (live in select markets) is included in all four channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay two months. Once signed up, you can watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: Fox (live in select markets) is included in the “Sling Blue” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
Seemingly cruising towards the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats have now lost two of their last three games. They still have a 97 percent chance to earn a No. 1 seed according to BPI’s metrics, but part of that is because the BPI model loves ‘Nova and pretty much assumes they’ll win the rest of their games (for example, they have them at 61.5 percent to beat Xavier, which is quite high on the road against a Top 5 team). It doesn’t mean the Wildcats can afford to keep losing and hold onto a No. 1 seed.
Still, while they have less margin for error than they did a week-and-a-half ago, Villanova isn’t a team you expect to struggle for long. In their five-point loss to Providence on Wednesday, they shot 3-of-20 from three-point range (the first time in 83 games they didn’t make at least four shots from deep) and produced their lowest point total (71) since November 24. Considering they are first in the country in effective field-goal percentage, first in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency and 18th in three-point percentage, there’s no reason to think they won’t soon bounce back on the offensive end.
Xavier, meanwhile, is in the thick of arguably their toughest stretch of the season–and they just continue to win. They went into Butler (projected 9 seed) and won in overtime. They went into Creighton (projected 6 seed) and won by a point. They faced Seton Hall (projected 7 seed) at home on Wednesday in what could have been described as a trap game–and they dropped 102 points in an easy win.
The Musketeers, like Villanova, are an offensive force (sixth in Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency), so it wouldn’t be surprising if this turned into a shootout. That wasn’t the case when they met in Philadelphia in early January, as Villanova rolled to an 89-65 rout, but the Musketeers haven’t lost since that game, they’re undefeated at home, and Villanova is showing some slight cracks in the armor.
Throw in the fact that the Big East regular season crown could potentially be on the line (a Xavier win puts them 2.5 games up on Villanova, while a ‘Nova win ties them in the loss column and gives them the head-to-head tiebreaker), and this sets up as a potential Game of the Year candidate.