Virginia basketball fans have a big one to look forward to. According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, the Cavaliers will square off with the Villanova Wildcats in a neutral site game at Madison Square Garden. The tweet is vague, but the initial understanding is that the game would take place this coming 2020-21 season.
Sources: Villanova and Virginia will play a neutral site game next season at Madison Square Garden.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 6, 2020
This is exciting news for a few reasons. One, this is a huge game in a legendary basketball site. Virginia has had a couple lack-luster non-conference games over the past few seasons, missing out on the marquis matchups that fans have been clamoring for. According to most of the “way too early” preseason rankings for next season, both Virginia and Villanova are expected to be top-10 — if not top-5 — in the country.
The Hoos and ‘Cats met in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons in a home-and-away series between the two programs. Virginia took the first matchup 86-75 in Charlottesville behind 22 points from Anthony Gill, 20 from Malcolm Brogdon, and 19 from London Perrantes. The No. 8 Cavaliers built a 13-point lead with 8:27 to play in the second half, but No. 12 (and eventual NCAA Champion) Villanova would get it back within three points with just over 4:30 remaining. A couple big threes and clutch free throws down the stretch helped the Hoos pull away for the win.
In the rematch, No. 12 Virginia almost knocked off No. 1 Villanova in Philly before Donte DiVincenzo got a put-back to fall at the buzzer for the 61-59 win. First year Ty Jerome was outstanding in the game, scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting (3-for-6 from three).
Hopefully this will be a series Virginia and Villanova fans see more often going forward.