The 2011-12 season was a resounding failure for the Villanova Wildcats, regardless of the measuring stick used to gauge it.
Not only did the Wildcats fail to make the postseason, but they were also one of the Big East’s worst teams, posting a losing records of 13-19 overall and a conference mark of 5-13. They routinely punished bettors for supporting them as they finished the season 8-19-2 against the spread.
Will 2012-13 be more of the same, or will Villanova turn things around?
Here are seven bold predictions for the upcoming college basketball season.
One of the few bright spots for Villanova last season was the play of 6’7” freshman power forward JayVaughn Pinkston.
Averaging 9.6 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game, Pinkston was able to make his presence felt inside the key and also showed the ability to step back and hit the long ball.
With a year’s worth of experience under his belt in the physical Big East, he should know what to expect this season and will be even better, potentially becoming one of the conference’s stars as a sophomore.
6’5” junior forward James Bell showed multiple flashes of brilliance last season, but his season was cut short and he wasn’t able to reach his full potential with a nagging ankle injury.
Rated a 4-star recruit coming into college, the sky is the limit for Bell. With plenty of depth across the roster, Bell may not be called upon to put up gaudy numbers every night, but he’ll stay healthy this season and be a solid contributor.
With James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston both set to take steps forward, it is only logical that senior center Mouphtaou Yarou has a big season as well.
The team’s top returning scorer with 11.3 points per game, the 6’10” Yarou also averaged 8.2 rebounds per game. With 6’11" Maurice Sutton and 6’10” newcomer Daniel Ochefu coming in off of the bench, Villanova should have plenty of strength and talent up front.
Last season, most of Villanova’s offense came from its guards, leading scorers Maalik Wayns (17.6 PPG) and Dominic Cheek (12.5 PPG), who are no longer with the team.
Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault is the favorite to start at point guard, though incoming freshman Ryan Arcidiacono might be good enough to force himself onto the floor.
With three sophomore guards (Ty Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, and Achraf Yacoubou) all returning with starting experience from last year, the emphasis could be on solid play and strong defending this year instead of star power.
Considering Villanova was one of the most consistent overs in college basketball last year, this is definitely a bold prediction.
But Coach Wright knows that last year’s abysmal defense (75.6 PPG against) was the key reason for the terrible year, and he also knows that he doesn’t have the personnel this year to shootout with the top teams in the Big East.
As a result, the emphasis is going to need to be on smart play and team defense, and unders should follow suit in Las Vegas.
There are two good reasons to look for Villanova to have a bounce-back season against the spread this year.
One, as mentioned, the Wildcats will be more focused on defense this year and in turn should keep games much closer.
But perhaps more importantly, after going 8-19-2 ATS last season, 2-10-2 ATS at home and 3-12-2 ATS as a dog (according to OddsShark.com), bettors will remember last year and start the season pounding whoever is playing against the Wildcats.
Those brave enough to bet on Villanova should get some great lines and turn a nice little profit.
Coach Jay Wright is 237-130 all time at Villanova. Last year’s dismal performance was the first time in seven years that the Wildcats didn't win 20 games or be invited to the NCAA Tournament.
This is a proven basketball program with a proven track record. Programs like this deserve a mulligan. Wright will make the necessary adjustments this year and Villanova will return to at least the middle of the pack in the Big East with 20 wins.