The Villanova Wildcats enter their 2011 NCAA Tournament matchup vs. the No. 8-seeded George Mason Patriots struggling, having lost five straight games. That includes four straight regular-season losses to Syracuse, Notre Dame, St. John's and Pittsburgh, as well as a shocking loss to lowly South Florida in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
But at least the Wildcats will be healthy as they try to make a surprise March Madness run. The Wildcats had been dealing with nagging injuries to star guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes as the losing streak commenced. Fisher had a bout of right knee tendonitis, while Stokes had a hamstring and toe injury. However, coach Jay Wright says both players are feeling much better coming into Friday's game, according to Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Wright said the team will also have the services of sophomore big man Mouphtaou Yarou, who suffered a nasy fall in the loss to South Florida. There was some doubt over whether he would play, but Wright says he is OK. This is important, as George Mason is not particularly big up front.
The bottom line for the Patriots is that they will have to beat a full-strength Villanova squad to advance. The Wildcats have not played since March 8, which gave them plenty of time to get healthy.
For more on the Wildcats, head over to The Nova Blog. Full coverage of every March Madness game can be found at our NCAA Tournament hub. Be sure to check out the full March Madness schedule to get primed for Friday's games.