Villanova Basketball: Wildcats' 5 Biggest Concerns in Big East Play

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2014

Villanova Basketball: Wildcats' 5 Biggest Concerns in Big East Play

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    Big East play has not slowed down the Villanova Wildcats one bit as Jay Wright's team is 2-0 in conference play with wins over Butler and Providence. 

    As the Wildcats begin to delve into the rest of their Big East schedule, there are sure to be concerns about the team and their growing title hopes. 

    Here is a look at the five biggest concerns that the Wildcats will have during the remaining 16 games of conference play. 

The Efficiency of Ryan Arcidiacono

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    Fourteen games into his sophomore season, point guard Ryan Arcidiacono is in the middle of a sophomore slump. 

    However, there is a bit of good news regarding Arcidiacono as he has been an efficient shooter in the first two Big East contests. 

    In the overtime victory over Butler on New Year's Eve, the guard shot 3-of-6 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range.

    Against Providence on Sunday, Arcidiacono scored seven points and failed to miss a shot. 

    While this a small sample, it is nice to see that the sophomore is more accurate, even if he is taking less shots due to the unexpected production of James Bell.

    If Arcidiacono can continue to be efficient and not slip into his poor shooting form from nonconference play, the Wildcats should have no problem contending for the Big East title. 

Avoiding a Letdown on the Road

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    Compared to previous seasons, the Wildcats actually have a very favorable schedule this season.

    But, before the Wildcats can play four of their final five games at home, they must go on two three-game road trips. 

    The second trip includes visits to DePaul and Providence, two teams that will be taken lightly by most of the conference due to their futility. 

    Despite entering those games as massive favorites, Villanova must be aware that conference play is a stealthy beast that can hunt you down at any point. 

    With that being said, the Wildcats must not have an off night against the Blue Demons or Friars, or they could be making headlines for an embarrassing road conference loss.

Doug McDermott

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    The team that currently stands in the way of Villanova winning their first conference title in the refurbished Big East is Creighton. 

    The Bluejays have surprisingly kept their name out of the national conversation so far this season, but as Doug McDermott, who is averaging 24.7 points per game, stars against better opposition, they will begin to gain traction among the national media. 

    In most games, McDermott is an unstoppable force that will lead his team to victory. 

    For the Wildcats to take down their new conference brethren from Omaha, they must contain McDermott in their two matchups. 

    The first time the two sides will square off is January 20 when Creighton visits The Pavilion. The return game comes on February 16 at the CenturyLink Center. 

The Potential Second Half Surge of Marquette

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    For all we know, Marquette may just be playing possum with us and are ready to storm to the top of the Big East. 

    The Golden Eagles, an old foe of the Wildcats when the Big East was a basketball superpower, have been surprisingly off this season at 9-6 overall and 1-1 in conference. 

    Sooner or later, a light will go off for Buzz Williams' team, it is just a matter of when it happens. 

    If Marquette puts a late run together, the March 2 clash at Villanova could end up determining who gets a higher seed at the Big East Tournament, and it will also be a major resume booster for either side. 

    For the sake of the Wildcats, they will hope that this year continues to be a down one in Wisconsin, but if Marquette gets hot, every single game will matter for the Wildcats during the stretch run, which means they must be focused during every minute of play. 

Play in the Paint

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    The two teams that could cause plenty of problems to Villanova's quest for the Big East throne were listed in the last two slides, and both of them possess strong paint presences. 

    Villanova is still in the process of establishing their paint presence in Daniel Ochefu, who as a sophomore is averaging 4.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. 

    In the four games against the likes of McDermott, Davante Gardner and Chris Otule, Ochefu and whomever partners him in the paint, most likely JayVaughn Pinkston, will have to contain those big men.

    If Ochefu performs admirably in those games, it will show the rest of the nation that the Wildcats can contend with the best at the position come March. 

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