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Villanova Wildcats Making 3-pointers at Fast and Furious Pace

Unranked Tennessee Part of Loaded Tournament Field

It will be something close to a homecoming as former Providence head coach Rick Barnes brings his undefeated Tennessee Volunteers to New England for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Villanova Wildcats, ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll, will be the first opponent on Saturday. The Wildcats are always one of the top shooting teams in the country and this season is no different.

Brandon Slater reacts Villanova vs Tennessee
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/AFP

The coaches know each other well. Wright was an assistant coach at Villanova from 1987-92 and that overlapped with Barnes’ time at Providence when both the Wildcats and Friars met up in Big East clashes.

The sportsbook has made Villanova a 2½x-point favorite. Villanova has covered in its last four games as a betting favorite.

The game is set for 1 p.m.on Saturday and will air on ESPNews.

Chandler Makes Immediate Impact

As debuts go, it is pretty hard to top what Tennessee Volunteers freshman guard Kennedy Chandler accomplished in his first collegiate game.

The 6-foot guard from Memphis, Tennessee made all four of his three-pointers, both of his free throws and was seven of 10 from the field as he had 22 points and four assists in 22 minutes in a 90-62 win over UT-Martin. He followed that up with 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals against East Tennessee State.

Chandler is shooting 68% from the field and is six for seven on three-pointers in his first two games. He is not only the team’s leading scorer but also the leader in assists.

“I have just been working on it, honestly,” Chandler said of his three-point shooting. “People are starting to realize that I have been working on it. It is a skill I need to work on and it is something I improve on every single day.”

— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) November 15, 2021

Chandler will have a chance to show off his range from the perimeter when the Volunteers play two ranked teams in their trip to Connecticut. No. 5 Villanova is Tennessee’s first opponent in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Challenge on Saturday. Either No. 6 Purdue or No. 18 North Carolina will be the Volunteers’ opponent on Sunday.

It will be the first meeting between Tennessee and Villanova since the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis. Villanova, listed as eight-point favorites according to the college basketball odds, won 85-76.

“In some ways, it’s a different team, different time but it’s the same kind of tournament,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “This is a great field we have going up at the Mohegan Sun. We’re going to find out a lot about ourselves this weekend.”

Villanova Has Strength in Numbers

It is not unusual for a college basketball team to have four or even five players scoring more than 10 points on a nightly basis. However, seeing a squad like the Villanova Wildcats with four players averaging is pretty remarkable.

Justin Moore leads the way at 19 points per game followed by Collin Gillespie (17.3), Brandon Slater (16.7) and Jermaine Samuels (16.0). Perhaps the most remarkable number of all is that the high-scoring quartet is 38 for 66 from three-point range. That is a shade under 58% for those scoring at home. It is no wonder that the Wildcats are fourth in Division I with a team three-point % of 48.8 and 13.7 three-pointers made per game.

Villanova coach Jay Wright has been working with Moore to keep on shooting when the opportunities present themselves rather than being so unselfish that he makes it easier for the opposing team to guard him. That was evident when Moore had a career-high 27 points in a 91-51 win over Mount St. Mary’s. The Wildcats were listed in the Las Vegas odds as a 26-point favorite.

“I thought Justin did a great job,” Wright said. “In the second half they adjusted on him and he still found people while still staying aggressive. That’s been part of his learning process. He had a lot of games last year where he had great streaks and then because he’s such an unselfish player, he would think, ‘I’m on a streak, now I have to get everyone else involved.’ We’ve been trying to teach him to stay aggressive even though you want to get everyone else involved. If it’s there you’ve got to take it.”

Led by the sweet-shooting quartet, Villanova has went over the total in each of the first three games of the season.

Villanova is once again expected to be a major player on the national scene and was the preseason favorite in the Big East.

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Villanova Wildcats

The teams haven’t played since 2017 with both that game and the 2010 game between the teams going over the scores and odds total.

Brandon Slater already has nine three-pointers for Villanova, four shy of the total from his first three seasons with the Wildcats. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds in 71 games during his first three seasons but is at 16.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in the first three games of his senior season.

Villanova is listed at +1600 in the latest March Madness odds.

Pick: Villanova -2½

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