Dating to last year's national championship season, Villanova's basketball team has won 19 games in a row, but that streak will be seriously tested when the top-ranked Wildcats visit No. 10 Creighton in a New Year's eve special in Omaha, Neb.
Both teams are 13-0 and 1-0 in the Big East. The sold-out CenturyLink Center should be hopping.
"It is one of the best atmospheres in the country," Villanova coach Jay Wright said Thursday in a telephone interview. "Their fans are passionate, and even last year when they were struggling, they still sold out. And they are really intelligent basketball fans."
Last year, the Wildcats visited Creighton in a Jan. 2 game and a capacity crowd of 17,375 saw Villanova earn an 85-71 win.
A Creighton official said Thursday that a crowd of more than 18,000 is expected Saturday.
After a 20-15 season in which the Bluejays advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT, Creighton has rebounded in a strong fashion.
The Bluejays and Villanova are among five teams that entered Thursday unbeaten. The others were Gonzaga, Baylor, and Southern Cal.
Villanova had a tough time staying unbeaten Wednesday in a 68-65 win over visiting DePaul (7-7).
After Creighton's 89-75 win over Seton Hall on Wednesday, coach Greg McDermott talked briefly about Villanova and how he would have preferred that the Wildcats weren't involved in a nail-biter with DePaul.
"That might be the worst thing that happened to us," McDermott told reporters. ". . . I am sure coach Wright has his team's attention."
This will be a contrast in styles. Creighton leads the Big East in scoring (89.8 ppg.) while Villanova is tops in the league in scoring defense (61.5). Creighton is the top field goal percentage team in the league (.540) while Villanova has the No. 1 field goal percentage defense (.414). The Bluejays are also the Big East's best three-point shooting team (.445) while Villanova is No. 1 in three-point percentage defense (.281).
"Creighton is the best offensive team we will have played against," Wright said.
Bluejays point guard Maurice Watson, the product of Philadelphia's Boys' Latin High leads the Big East in assists, averaging 9.1 per game.
"He is one of the best point guards in the country," Wright said.
A player who has made a major difference is Marcus Foster, a 6-foot-3 junior who sat out last season after transferring from Kansas State. He is averaging a team-high 18.8 points.
He has given them something they probably haven't had since (Doug) McDermott in terms of being a complete player," Wright said, comparing him to the son of the Creighton coach who is now with the Chicago Bulls. "He (Foster) can score, post, hit from the perimeter, passes the ball extremely well and he is has all the tools and is a difficult prepare for."
As well as Creighton shoots from the field, the Bluejays have been inconsistent from the foul line. They are ninth in the 10-team Big East in free throw percentage (.672) while Villanova is second (.782).
Despite the contrasting styles, the common thread that ties these teams together is their unbeaten records.
The game marks only the second time in Big East history that two unbeaten teams have met in league play. The first took place on Jan. 3, 1989, when Georgetown visited Seton Hall.
"We're facing one of the best teams in the country," Wright said.
So is Creighton, which is why this is such a highly anticipated matchup to close out 2016.