Scouting reports: Villanova-Xavier and St. Joe's-George Mason

Scouting reports: Villanova-Xavier and St. Joe's-George Mason

A pair of City 6 schools are in action Tuesday night. Let's get you set for the matchups.

No. 3 Villanova (15-1, 3-1 Big East) vs. No. 15 Xavier (13-2, 3-0 Big East)
7 p.m. at the Pavilion on FOX Sports 1

Last time out
Villanova rebounded from its first loss since March 12, 2016, by beating Marquette, 93-81, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats looked laser-focused after having their 20-game win streak halted by a 66-58 loss at then-No. 18 Butler on Wednesday. As a result, Villanova lost its No. 1 perch atop the country.

Xavier dispatched hapless St. John’s, 97-82, on Saturday for its sixth straight win following back-to-back defeats at the hands of undefeated Baylor and Colorado. The Musketeers also own wins over Providence and Georgetown, making them the only Big East team without a conference loss.

Scouting report
Villanova is a nightmare when connecting from long range like it did against Marquette. The Wildcats made 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) from beyond the arc as Kris Jenkins (6 for 9), Mikal Bridges (3 for 3) and Jalen Brunson (3 for 3) went a combined 12 for 15. Villanova shares it (14.6 assists) and takes care of it (10.7 turnovers) with a 1.36 assist-to-turnover ratio, second best in the Big East. Josh Hart is the leader with averages of 19.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, but many Wildcats can hurt you.

Xavier receives a massive boost in the return of guard Myles Davis, who sat out the first 15 games serving an indefinite suspension handed down by head coach Chris Mack. The senior from Plainfield, New Jersey averaged 10.8 points per game last season while making 64 three-pointers and leading the Musketeers with 4.1 assists per game. Xavier ranks first in the Big East with a plus-8.1 rebounding margin as its guards boast terrific size. Trevon Bluiett (6-foot-6), Edmond Sumner (6-foot-6) and J.P. Macura (6-foot-5) all average 14-plus points per game.

What it means
A win for Villanova would push the Wildcats into first place of the Big East and only help their résumé and RPI for NCAA Tournament seeding. 

A loss would be Villanova’s second in conference play after it lost only two league games all last season.

Series history
The Wildcats spanked the Musketeers at the Pavilion last season, 95-64. Xavier got its revenge in the second meeting when it knocked off top-ranked Villanova in Cincinnati, 90-83. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 22-5.

What’s next?
Villanova takes on St. John’s Saturday for a noon tip-off at Madison Square Garden.

Things don’t get much easier for Xavier, which travels to No. 12 Butler on Saturday to take on the Bulldogs at 2 p.m.

St. Joe’s (8-6, 2-1 A-10) vs. George Mason (11-5, 1-2 A-10)
7 p.m. at Hagan Arena on TCN

Last time out
St. Joe’s made easy work of Fordham, 70-55, on Saturday in New York to alleviate the sting of its 30-point loss to Rhode Island four days prior.

George Mason fell at St. Bonaventure, 82-72, on Saturday, dropping to 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 after going 10-3 in the nonconference.

Scouting report
The Hawks continue their push forward without Shavar Newkirk, a junior guard who was averaging 20.3 points per game before tearing his ACL, ending his 2016-17 season 12 games into the schedule. St. Joe’s does have James Demery back. The 6-foot-6 forward scored a career-high 27 points in the win over Fordham, his third game back since being out after injuring his left foot in the season opener. Demery averages 16 points per game, while sophomore Lamarr Kimble (14.1) and freshman Charlie Brown (10.2) follow suit.

The Patriots, who have already equaled their win total from last season, are led by first-year head coach Dave Paulsen, who came to George Mason from Bucknell, where he was a three-time Patriot League Coach of the Year. Marquise Moore does it all for the Patriots as the 6-foot-2 senior guard remarkably averages a double-double in points (18.0) and rebounds (10.6). He also leads George Mason with 3.6 assists per game. The Patriots don’t shoot the ball particularly well as they’ve made just 88 threes, second to last in the Atlantic 10 ahead of only the Hawks at 82.

What it means
A win for St. Joe’s would give it a 3-1 mark in conference play, a real positive considering the Hawks went into their second A-10 game knowing they’d be without their leading scorer the rest of the season.

A loss would drop St. Joe’s to .500 in league competition ahead of a tough matchup against Richmond, currently 9-6 and 3-0 in the Atlantic 10.

Series history
George Mason has never beaten the Hawks, who lead the all-time series, 4-0.

What’s next?
St. Joe’s welcomes Richmond on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. tip-off on NBCSN.

George Mason hosts Saint Louis on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., a game also on NBCSN.

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we payed y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood's Collin Gillespie, the Philadelphia Catholic League's MVP, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Villanova and play for Jay Wright.

Gillespie, during his senior year, averaged 24.1 points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard lead Archbishop Wood to their first Catholic League title in school history and followed that up with a PIAA State Championship game victory -- also a first for the school. Along with the league MVP, Gillespie was named Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News.

"We are excited to have Collin and his family join the Nova Nation," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "Collin comes from a great program at Archbishop Wood and has been well prepared by John Mosco. His guard skills, basketball IQ and winning instincts will be a welcome addition to our program."

Gillespie will join previously announced signees Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia) and Jermaine Samuels (Rivers School, Weston, Mass.) in Villanova's class of 2021.