Villanova Basketball: Biggest Games Remaining on the Wildcats' Schedule

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

Villanova Basketball: Biggest Games Remaining on the Wildcats' Schedule

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    The Villanova Wildcats are coming off of a brutal drubbing at the hands of Creighton at home on Monday night in Big East play. 

    However, that loss will not be the final difficult game of their conference slate. 

    With seven weeks left in the Big East season, the Wildcats have plenty of time to recover and turn themselves into a top team when the postseason rolls around. 

    To do that, Jay Wright's team will have to play well in its five most difficult games left on the schedule. 

    Here is a look at the five most challenging contests left on the Wildcats' docket. 

5. February 1 at Temple

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    At first glance, the matchup with Temple at the Liacouras Center on the first day of February presents a potential blowout in the Wildcats' favor. 

    That would be the worst mindset to take into the game against the struggling Owls, who will have a chance to pull off an upset against one of their Big Five rivals. 

    Another factor that could play a part in this game is that the Owls are 2-1 against fellow city teams this season with wins coming against Penn and St. Joseph's. 

    It is clear that Fran Dunphy's crew will be jacked up for the occasion. With three players who average over 16 points per game in Dalton Pepper, Quenton DeCosey and Will Cummings, the Owls could easily catch fire from the field, just like Creighton did on Monday night. 

4. March 2 vs. Marquette

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    Last season, the Wildcats defeated Marquette at home in late February, a win that helped them secure an NCAA men's basketball tournament berth. 

    There is no doubt that the roles will be reversed when the two clubs get together on March 2, as the Golden Eagles will most likely be in search of a key conference win against a ranked opponent. 

    The game will also hold plenty of importance for the Wildcats, as the home game against Marquette starts a crucial three-game stretch in early March that could require Villanova to win all three games to have a chance of winning the regular-season title. 

    Marquette will provide Villanova center Daniel Ochefu with a massive test inside, as the Golden Eagles possess a strong tandem in the paint with Davante Gardner and Chris Otule. 

3. March 6 at Xavier

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    The second game of that three-game stretch in March is the only road game that the Wildcats will play during the final two weeks of the season. 

    If the Wildcats falter at Creighton on February 16, they will be contending for the No. 2 seed at the Big East tournament with Xavier, which currently has the same conference record as Villanova. 

    Earning the second seed for the tournament being held at Madison Square Garden from March 12-15 would mean avoiding Creighton until the final. 

    However, the bad part about possessing the No. 2 seed for the winner of this game would be that they would have to potentially take on the loser of this game in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

    The game will also deliver a stellar guard matchup, as Xavier has one of the most exciting guards in the country on their roster in Semaj Christon, who averages 16.9 points per game. 

2. January 27 at Georgetown

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    Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned Big East rivalry that actually still exists? 

    The most storied pair of rivals left in the conference will square off for the first time this season in less than a week's time. 

    Unfortunately, Georgetown is not Georgetown this season as it currently possesses a 3-4 record in conference play.

    The game comes at a crucial juncture of the schedule for both teams, as Villanova will be in the middle of a tough three-game road trip, while the Hoyas have this game sandwiched in between clashes with Creighton and Michigan State. 

    The Hoyas will most likely be in need of a win to prevent a complete disaster in conference play, and what better way to get back on track than to take down a hated rival? 

    Villanova will certainly be on upset alert as they enter the Verizon Center, and it must play at its highest level to leave Washington, D.C., with a victory. 

1. February 16 at Creighton

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    There was no way any other game left on the Villanova schedule would be ranked above the trip to Omaha on February 16. 

    After Monday's blowout loss to the Bluejays, the Wildcats must have that date circled on their calendar, if it wasn't already. 

    The Wildcats have a chance to make a massive statement at the CenturyLink Center with a victory, one that will prove how resilient of a team they actually are after suffering such a brutal loss. 

    The stakes will also be high that Sunday night in Nebraska, as Villanova could jump back into the driver's seat for the regular-season title with a victory.

    A win by Creighton would most likely lock up the title for the Bluejays, who would be two games ahead of the Wildcats if they sweep the season series. 

     

    Joe Tansey writes a weekly piece on Villanova for Bleacher Report; you can follow him on Twitter @JTansey90.