Villanova has won five straight matchups with rival Saint Joseph’s and aims to extend that streak Saturday while remaining perfect on the young season. The visiting Wildcats, ranked fourth in the nation, defeated another local rival, Pennsylvania, their last time out.
Villanova topped Penn 90-62 behind 17 points from Jalen Brunson as the team won its 17th straight Big 5 game. The Big 5, which is a round-robin between five Philadelphia schools, is a source of pride for coach Jay Wright but not something he wants to obsess over. “I don’t like thinking about it,” Wright said of the streak. “We know if you don’t bring it, you’re going to get beat. We never lose respect for those teams.” Saint Joseph’s is looking for its first three-game winning streak of the season and its first victory in the series since 2011.
TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT VILLANOVA (7-0): The Wildcats have five double-figure scorers on the season, but two — Brunson (18.4 points per game) and Mikal Bridges (17.9) — are clearly ahead of the pack. Brunson continues to be extremely efficient with his shooting as he’s up to 65.8 percent from the field, 52 percent from the 3-point arc and 83.3 percent from the foul line. He also has committed only seven turnovers in seven games, while Bridges has only nine turnovers on the season and none in the last two games.
ABOUT SAINT JOSEPH’S (4-3): The Hawks slipped past Bucknell 83-70 their last time out as James Demery scored 20 points and Shavar Newkirk chipped in 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Demery is averaging a 17.1 points — second on the team — and has scored at least 13 points in every game. Newkirk (17.4 points) is shooting only 37 percent after making 46.6 percent of his shots last season, and his 3-point percentage (28.2) is way down from last season’s mark of 39.6 percent.
1. Villanova F Eric Paschall is 1-of-15 from 3-point range this season.
2. Wildcats F Omari Spellman nearly reached his career high of 15 points when he scored 14 points with seven rebounds (and a career-best two 3-pointers) against Penn.
3. Since shooting 5-of-12 in the season opener, Brunson has shot at least 50 percent in every game.
PREDICTION: Villanova 83, Saint Joseph’s 66