Villanova Basketball: Wildcats' Biggest Goals for Nonconference Play

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  James Bell #32 of the Villanova Wildcats takes a shot in the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers during the 2012 2K Sports Classic on November 15, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Now that the Villanova Wildcats have four games under their belts in the 2013-14 season, they can set some goals for the rest of nonconference play.

With a trip to the Bahamas and a plethora of Big Five matchups ahead in the final five weeks before Big East play begins, the Wildcats will look to set up their squad for a run at the conference title. 

Here is a look at four goals that Jay Wright's Wildcats should have heading into the rest of their nonconference schedule.


Challenge at the Battle 4 Atlantis

Arguably the biggest test left on the Wildcats' out-of-conference slate comes this weekend as they enter the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The Wildcats will begin their tournament campaign against USC on Thursday. If they defeat Andy Enfield's Trojans, they will most likely face Kansas in the semifinals. 

While they are not expected to defeat Andrew Wiggins and the Jayhawks, the Wildcats should be able to hang with the No. 2 team in the nation for most of the game. 

If they do fall to Kansas, they will probably face Tennessee, Xavier or Iowa, all three of which will be in contention for an NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament berth come March. 

If the Wildcats can leave the Bahamas with a 2-1 record, it will be deemed a major success. But they shouldn't fret if they lose two games after beating USC in the first round because of the quality that they will see there.


Win the Big Five Title

After their road trip to the Bahamas concludes, the Wildcats will face three consecutive Big Five foes. 

Two of the three games will be at The Pavilion with a road trip to Hawk Hill to play St. Joseph's sandwiched in between the clashes with Penn and La Salle.

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 22:  Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats talks with Ryan Arcidiacono #15 in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

All three of their December opponents from the city of Philadelphia will be major players in their own leagues, and just like every Big Five clash, they will hand the Wildcats a valuable test. 

With every victory in the Big Five usually comes a nice resume boost, which any team would love to have come March.

Villanova's final Big Five showdown will come on February 1 when the Wildcats visit Temple. They will get a quick reprieve from the Big East. 


Beat Syracuse 

When the old version of the Big East split into two factions during the offseason, Villanova lost one of its marquee rivals in Syracuse.

Luckily, the Wildcats and one of the newest members of the ACC were smart enough to agree to a nonconference series.

SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 12: JayVaughn Pinkston #22 of the Villanova Wildcats reaches for the ball against C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange during the game at the Carrier Dome on January 12, 2013 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

Three days before the Wildcats head to Hinkle Fieldhouse for their Big East opener against Butler, they will travel to the Carrier Dome to take on Jim Boeheim's team.

The Wildcats defeated Syracuse in their final Big East game last season, and they would love nothing more than to take down the Orange on the road to prove they are the supreme team in the rivalry. 

Beating Syracuse would also come at an opportune time for the Wildcats; they could carry of a ton of momentum into Big East play with a win in upstate New York.


Continue to Develop the Freshmen

Through four games, two of three freshmen on the Wildcats roster have been able to contribute on a consistent basis. 

Of the duo, Josh Hart has made the biggest impact by playing 20 minutes per game and averaging 8.5 points and five rebounds. 

Hart's classmate Kris Jenkins has played in 10.8 minutes per game and contributed 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds.

As Hart and Jenkins continue to add depth to the Wildcats lineup, it only makes the team as a whole better when Big East play comes calling.

If the two freshmen can continue to deliver at the same pace during the rest of nonconference play, Wright will be more than pleased with what he has gotten out of them.


Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.