We are less than three weeks away from the beginning of the 2013-14 college basketball season, which means we can finally look forward to the games that will be played in the upcoming weeks and months.
For the Villanova Wildcats, they have a nonconference schedule that is chock full of mid-major opponents and one or two big names as well as a trip to the Bahamas.
With 12 nonconference games on the docket for Jay Wright and the Wildcats, only a select few can make the cut as being the most difficult out of conference games for the Big East team.
Villanova's third game of the season will hand them an opponent that escaped futility to go 18-13 last season.
Pat Skerry's Towson Tigers made one of the biggest turnarounds in college basketball history, but they were unfortunately ineligible for the postseason based on the actions of the previous regime at the school.
Out to prove they are one of the best mid-majors this season, the Tigers will show no fear as they enter The Pavilion.
One of the reasons why Towson will be a tough early test for Villanova is their star forward, Jerrelle Benimon, who won the CAA Player of the Year award while averaging 17.1 points per game last season.
The first true road test of the season sees the Wildcats take on Big Five rival St. Joseph's at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia.
The December 7 clash will be the second Big Five game of the season for both the Wildcats and the Hawks, and it could go a long way in determining who the best team in the City of Brotherly Love is.
Last season, the battle between the two local rivals ended in a four-point victory by the Wildcats on their home floor.
Surely the Hawks will want to avoid being beaten by the Wildcats for the second season in a row and add a quality win to their prospective NCAA men's basketball tournament resume.
The team that will be the biggest challenger in Philadelphia to Villanova's attempt to claim the title of best team in the Big Five will be the La Salle Explorers.
La Salle made an unexpected trip to the Sweet 16 last season, and they return most of their squad, including Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland this season.
The guard-heavy lineup the Explorers put out on the floor should rival the strong guard play of the Wildcats, which should make this game a shootout you will want to keep your eyes on for all 40 minutes.
Not only will this game be a good litmus test for the Wildcats heading into the rigors of Big East play, but it will also give them a chance to measure up against a team with a similar style of play.
Villanova will face a monumental task over Thanksgiving weekend in the Bahamas at the eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
In recent years, the Battle 4 Atlantis has transformed into one of the premier tournaments during nonconference play.
This year's version of the tournament at Paradise Island Harbour Resort in Nassau is no exception with the likes of Kansas, Tennessee, Xavier and Iowa all making the trip down to the Caribbean.
Villanova will face USC in their first game in the Bahamas, and if they get past the Trojans, they should match up with Kansas, who open their tournament slate with Wake Forest.
No matter what results they put up in the Bahamas, the Wildcats will face three quality opponents with USC and UTEP expected to contend in their respective conferences this season as well despite being regarded as the teams with the least talent at the tournament.
December 28 is a date that has been circled on the calendars of Villanova's players, coaches and fans for a long time now.
On that date, the Wildcats will end nonconference play against old Big East foe Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
The trip to upstate New York three days before their Big East opener at Butler will show the Wildcats exactly where they stand as a team as they look to make an impact on the national level this season.
In their meeting at the Carrier Dome last season, the Wildcats were dominated by the Orange, and although they enacted some revenge at home two weeks later, Jay Wright's team would love nothing more than to pull off an upset against their biggest rival on the road.
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