NCAA

Scouting reports: Villanova-Xavier and St. Joe's-George Mason

Scouting reports: Villanova-Xavier and St. Joe's-George Mason

A pair of City 6 schools are in action Tuesday night. Let's get you set for the matchups.

No. 3 Villanova (15-1, 3-1 Big East) vs. No. 15 Xavier (13-2, 3-0 Big East)
7 p.m. at the Pavilion on FOX Sports 1

Last time out
Villanova rebounded from its first loss since March 12, 2016, by beating Marquette, 93-81, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats looked laser-focused after having their 20-game win streak halted by a 66-58 loss at then-No. 18 Butler on Wednesday. As a result, Villanova lost its No. 1 perch atop the country.

Xavier dispatched hapless St. John’s, 97-82, on Saturday for its sixth straight win following back-to-back defeats at the hands of undefeated Baylor and Colorado. The Musketeers also own wins over Providence and Georgetown, making them the only Big East team without a conference loss.

Scouting report
Villanova is a nightmare when connecting from long range like it did against Marquette. The Wildcats made 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) from beyond the arc as Kris Jenkins (6 for 9), Mikal Bridges (3 for 3) and Jalen Brunson (3 for 3) went a combined 12 for 15. Villanova shares it (14.6 assists) and takes care of it (10.7 turnovers) with a 1.36 assist-to-turnover ratio, second best in the Big East. Josh Hart is the leader with averages of 19.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, but many Wildcats can hurt you.

Xavier receives a massive boost in the return of guard Myles Davis, who sat out the first 15 games serving an indefinite suspension handed down by head coach Chris Mack. The senior from Plainfield, New Jersey averaged 10.8 points per game last season while making 64 three-pointers and leading the Musketeers with 4.1 assists per game. Xavier ranks first in the Big East with a plus-8.1 rebounding margin as its guards boast terrific size. Trevon Bluiett (6-foot-6), Edmond Sumner (6-foot-6) and J.P. Macura (6-foot-5) all average 14-plus points per game.

What it means
A win for Villanova would push the Wildcats into first place of the Big East and only help their résumé and RPI for NCAA Tournament seeding. 

A loss would be Villanova’s second in conference play after it lost only two league games all last season.

Series history
The Wildcats spanked the Musketeers at the Pavilion last season, 95-64. Xavier got its revenge in the second meeting when it knocked off top-ranked Villanova in Cincinnati, 90-83. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 22-5.

What’s next?
Villanova takes on St. John’s Saturday for a noon tip-off at Madison Square Garden.

Things don’t get much easier for Xavier, which travels to No. 12 Butler on Saturday to take on the Bulldogs at 2 p.m.

St. Joe’s (8-6, 2-1 A-10) vs. George Mason (11-5, 1-2 A-10)
7 p.m. at Hagan Arena on TCN

Last time out
St. Joe’s made easy work of Fordham, 70-55, on Saturday in New York to alleviate the sting of its 30-point loss to Rhode Island four days prior.

George Mason fell at St. Bonaventure, 82-72, on Saturday, dropping to 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 after going 10-3 in the nonconference.

Scouting report
The Hawks continue their push forward without Shavar Newkirk, a junior guard who was averaging 20.3 points per game before tearing his ACL, ending his 2016-17 season 12 games into the schedule. St. Joe’s does have James Demery back. The 6-foot-6 forward scored a career-high 27 points in the win over Fordham, his third game back since being out after injuring his left foot in the season opener. Demery averages 16 points per game, while sophomore Lamarr Kimble (14.1) and freshman Charlie Brown (10.2) follow suit.

The Patriots, who have already equaled their win total from last season, are led by first-year head coach Dave Paulsen, who came to George Mason from Bucknell, where he was a three-time Patriot League Coach of the Year. Marquise Moore does it all for the Patriots as the 6-foot-2 senior guard remarkably averages a double-double in points (18.0) and rebounds (10.6). He also leads George Mason with 3.6 assists per game. The Patriots don’t shoot the ball particularly well as they’ve made just 88 threes, second to last in the Atlantic 10 ahead of only the Hawks at 82.

What it means
A win for St. Joe’s would give it a 3-1 mark in conference play, a real positive considering the Hawks went into their second A-10 game knowing they’d be without their leading scorer the rest of the season.

A loss would drop St. Joe’s to .500 in league competition ahead of a tough matchup against Richmond, currently 9-6 and 3-0 in the Atlantic 10.

Series history
George Mason has never beaten the Hawks, who lead the all-time series, 4-0.

What’s next?
St. Joe’s welcomes Richmond on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. tip-off on NBCSN.

George Mason hosts Saint Louis on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., a game also on NBCSN.

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.