UNCASVILLE, Conn. – No. 3 Villanova is set to open its 2020-21 season Wednesday night against former Big East rival Boston College at Mohegan Sun Arena in the 2K Empire Sports Classic.
The Wildcats, who arrived on Monday night after a charter bus trip from their campus, will feature in the second game of a doubleheader at 9:30 p.m. Rhode Island, which replaced Baylor for the regular season tournament, will meet No. 18 Arizona State in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Wednesday night games, which opens the COVID-19 pandemic campaign – will broadcast live on ESPN and stream live on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN App – with Jon Sciambi and Jay Bilas doing the call.
Villanova and Boston College last met in what was a classic battle in the 2006 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in Minneapolis, which went into overtime. The Wildcats grabbed a narrow one point – 60-59 victory in that contest.
“I have some great memories of the rivalry,” Villanova coach Jay Wright, who has a 4-4 record against the Eagles said. “There were some battles even going back to my time as an assistant with Coach (Rollie) Massimino (1987-92).”
Wright, who begins his 20th season as Villanova’s head coach admits that the team had to change some of its regular routines due to COVID-19.
“Normally, we would have come up on Tuesday for the game Wednesday,” Wright revealed. “But we needed to be up here in time to get tested on Monday night and then were tested again Tuesday.
“We have a routine we like to stick to on the road, but you have to remain flexible because there are a lot of different things to account for.
“All of us as players and coaches are excited to play games. We’re also a little anxious too. We just want to get out there.”
The Wildcats have had a few setbacks to some key players during the preseason preparations, as Senior forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (shin injury) and Bryan Antoine (right shoulder) could miss both these games in the 2K Empire Sports Classic.
Senior guard Collin Gillespie and sophomore guard Justin Moore both missed preseason time because of injuries and could be limited as they eased their way back to fit.
“As coaches, we don’t really know what to expect,” Wright said. “We missed all that time last summer, had a COVID pause in the fall and then some injuries when we returned.
“We haven’t scrimmaged so it’s hard to get a handle on where we are. I think Wednesday night will be educational. I just hope it’s in a fun way.”
Wednesday night’s game will marks the 78th meeting between Boston College and Villanova, which dates back to the 1945-46 season. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 53-24.
Boston college trails Nova 3-8 all-time on a neutral site.
The Eagles will be looking at a pair of transfers to lead the team’s offense. Rich Kelly, who is a three-time Second Team All-MAAC selection from Quinnipiac and Frederick Scott, who was a three-time All-MAAC third team selection at Rider, has combined to make 296 career 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, Makai Ashton-Langford and DeMarr Langford Jr. will feature for the first time.