Quinnipiac vs Villanova : Villanova returns to action on Saturday night, at 8:00 p.m., to take on Baker Dunleavy’s Quinnipiac Bobcats at the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova opened the Finneran Pavilion in style Tuesday in a 100-77 win against Morgan State that saw Jay Wright go eleven deep and experiment with his new group. Much of the same can be expected Saturday against a lowly Quinnipiac team.
Former Villanova Wildcats assistant coach Baker Dunleavy will make his triumphant return home on Saturday night. It’ll be a nostalgic night for both Wright and Dunleavy after the latter spent 7 years on Jay Wright’s staff before taking over the Quinnpiac program in the spring of 2017. Dunleavy signed a 5-year extension this offseason after what many considered a successful debut season. It’s the season-opener for the Bobcats, while Villanova got a tune-up in by beating Morgan State 100-77 on Tuesday night. The Wildcats weren’t great in the win, and will look for an improved performance before hosting the Michigan Wolverines in a National Championship rematch next week.
Quinnipiac University is a relatively small Connecticut school that plays in the MAAC Conference. The team is coached by ex-Villanova Assistant Baker Dunleavy, who left Villanova to start his (hopefully) long career as a successful head coach. Like Jay Wright, Dunleavy is starting from the bottom in hopes of reaching the top (s/o Drake).
In his first season at the helm, Dunleavy and the Bobcats finished 12-21 (7-11 in conference) good for 7th in the MAAC. Their most notable win came against UMass (I guess?) but the team made a spirited run to the semifinals of the MAAC Tournament before losing to Fairfield. KenPom ranked last year’s team at 280th in the country, and despite a difficult first campaign, the athletic department extended Dunleavy through the 2022-23 season and gave the coach a vote of confidence.
The Villanova Wildcats started their title defense on a high note, taking down Morgan State in their season opener by a final score of 100-77. Eric Paschall led the Wildcats with 26 points on 7 of 11 shooting with an 11 of 12 mark from the foul line and 7 rebounds. Phil Booth added 17 points and Saddiq Bey came right behind with 16 points while Jermaine Samuels added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Joe Cremo added 3 triples to put up 10 points and round out the scoring in double digits for the Wildcats. Collin Gillespie added 6 points to match his team-high 6 assists while Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree added 4 points, 7 boards and 3 blocks in the victory. As a team, Villanova is averaging 100 points on 50.7% shooting from the field, 32.4% from behind the 3-point line and 74.1% from the foul line after their opening game.