Villanova at Towson: Three things to watch
The Tigers have a golden opportunity to not only capture their fourth Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship, but also assure themselves of a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Here are a few things that must turn in Towson’s favor Saturday night so that the team can avoid the anxiety of Selection Sunday:
1) Get Bill McCutcheon involved. The senior attackman leads the Tigers in assists (15) and points (37) for good reason. He’s a strong go-to-the-goal slasher who is deft enough to pass to an open teammate when he senses a slide. And when he is productive, Towson is the immediate beneficiary. In the team’s seven victories this season, McCutcheon has scored 16 goals and registered six assists. In nine losses, he has posted just six goals and nine assists. Only one opponent kept McCutcheon out of the box score. That team? Villanova.
2) Beware the zone defense. Last Saturday, the Wildcats were dismantled by conference leader Hofstra, 10-3. Four days later, Villanova turned the tables, upending the Pride, 9-7, in a CAA tournament semifinal. One of the keys to the Wildcats’ victory was the installment of a zone defense that keyed on Hofstra’s Jay Card and dared the Pride’s shooters to take long-range, low-percentage shots. Villanova may try a similar tactic against the Tigers, which means midfielders like Randall Cooper, Will Harrington and Pat Britton will have to work hard at the corners of the cage to bust that zone and force the Wildcats defenders to extend.
3) Get another solid performance from Rob Wheeler. Towson isn’t asking for another career-high 17-save effort like the one he produced in the 10-2 semifinal win against Drexel Wednesday night, but the junior goalkeeper can provide an emotional boost on the defensive end. The Tigers are 4-2 when Wheeler finishes a game with at least 13 saves. ... Give Mitchell Rosensweig some help. The senior faceoff specialist ranks 11th in the country with a .569 win percentage, but he won just nine of 19 faceoffs in Towson’s 13-4 loss to Villanova on April 8. A solid outing from Rosensweig could translate into longer possessions, more shots, and a lot of goals against the Wildcats. ... Use the home field to the Tigers’ advantage. Towson is 6-2 in the conference tournament when playing at home. The Tigers should be able to utilize crowd support and the friendly confines of Johnny Unitas Stadium to make things slightly uncomfortable for Villanova.