On Friday night Villanova and Alabama will square off in the 2K Sports Classic championship game. Both teams enter into the matchup with 3-0 records, and both will be looking for a big win to help boost their non-conference resumes.
Each team narrowly escaped in the semifinals, with Alabama defeating Oregon State 65-62 and Villanova defeating Purdue in overtime 89-81.
Now we are left with what should be a very good game between two teams who could very likely be in the picture when March comes around, and this game will be huge in deciding if they are in or out.
Here is a preview of each team, five players to watch, and of course a prediction for the game.
The Wildcats are looking to bounce back from a season that saw them go 5-13 in the Big East and 13-19 overall.
It was the worst year under head coach Jay Wright's 11 year tenure, and broke a seven year streak in which the Wildcats had gone to the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats do have some hope on the horizon though. Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono has been a great contributor to the team so far.
The guard leads the Wildcats in scoring currently with 18 points per game. The Wildcats will also need scoring help from JayVaughn Pinkston, James Bell and Darrun Hilliard.
All three of these players scored in double figures in the semifinal win over Purdue.
Villanova is hoping that a win against the Crimson Tide on Friday night, can boost their non-conference resume, and help them continue to build momentum heading into Big East play in January.
The Crimson Tide returned to the NCAA Tournament last year, but quickly saw their run end in their opening game, which they lost to Creighton 58-57.
The Tide finished the season with a 21-12 mark, and believe that they could improve on that this year.
Many people are nearly ready to put the Tide up their with Kentucky, Missouri, and Florida as contenders in the SEC, but it might take another year before they are entirely ready to contend for a conference championship.
Alabama's offensive attack is led by guards Trevor Lacey and Trevor Releford. Lacey a sophomore and Releford a junior, have helped build a young Alabama attack that could be potent over the next few seasons.
The Crimson Tide have only one senior on their roster, guard Andrew Steele, so this could indeed be a team to be reckoned with in the future.
Alabama is hoping that a win over the Wildcats would help justify that they are indeed ready to compete with the powers of the SEC.
We will not know for sure if they are ready though, until they travel to Missouri for their SEC opener on Jan. 8.
Five Players to Watch
Ryan Arcidiacono- The Wildcats freshman guard is the team's leading scorer, but his shooting percentage is nothing to be proud of.
He is shooting 37 percent from the floor and went 3-14 shooting in the game against Purdue on Thursday night.
The freshman is going to have to get his shooting percentage up and be more efficient if he wants to become a true threat for the Wildcats.
Darrun Hilliard- The Wildcats sophomore guard led the scoring attack for Villanova on Thursday night against Purdue by scoring 22 points.
Unlike Arcidiacono though, Hilliard was very efficient from the floor. He went 7-10 shooting and made 2-3 three pointers in the game.
Trevor Lacey- Alabama's sophomore guard has proved he can be the leader of the offense, scoring 20 points are more in each of the last two games.
The Crimson Tide will once again need a strong game from Lacey if they are to win against Villanova.
Rodney Cooper- The Alabama guard hit the game winning three against Oregon State to help Alabama win their semifinal game. They will once again need his production against Villanova.
Moussa Gueye- Alabama ranks 316th in the NCAA in rebounds per game. Sure, it is very early in the season, but so far the Tide have really struggled rebounding the basketball.
They need to pull down more boards and not allow the other team to get lots of second chance opportunities. At seven feet tall, much of the rebounding responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Gueye.
There simply is just too much scoring on the Crimson Tide side. Their guards are extremely talented and they scoring at much more efficient rate then the guards for Villanova do.
Regardless of this, it should be a very entertaining basketball game.
Alabama wins 69-64