The No. 8 Villanova Wildcats head to Hawaii as the -3.5 favorite over the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners in the Pearl Harbor Invitational. After 33 wins and an early exit from the NCAA Tournament last season, head coach Jay Wright looks to prove this squad remains Final Four worthy. On the other end, Buddy Hield hopes to solidify himself as an early Player of the Year favorite with a big win against a top ranked opponent.
It all starts on the perimeter for the Wildcats who are currently shooting 30% from beyond the arc while attempting 31 shots from distance each outing. Standing 7-0 on the season, the lack of production from three point range has not hurt a guard driven Villanova team yet.
However, the Sooners are holding opponents to 32.6% shooting from the field, a number that ranks first in the country. If Nova hopes to offset the perimeter speed of Oklahoma, Josh Hart (15.3 ppg, 33.3% three-point percentage) and Ryan Arcidiacono (12.4 ppg, 39.4% three-point percentage) need to spread the floor with ball movement and outside shooting.
Inside, Daniel Ochefu averages 9.4 points per game but has racked up three double-doubles in seven games. Those numbers have come with limited minutes as a starter though. At 6-11, he'll have a significant size advantage over any of the Sooners starting forwards.
Yet, Lon Kruger could opt to play Akolda Manyang, Oklahoma's 7-footer and best rim protector, at times to combat the strengths of Ochefu. The move would also force the Wildcats into a weak area...three point shooting as mentioned above. Manyang may be the best rim protector but remains an offensive liability with a raw skill set.
Holding a 1-2 record against Villanova, the Sooners look to even the score tonight at 6PM CST on Fox Sport 1.