Villanova Basketball: 5 Things We've Learned About Wildcats in 2013-14

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

Villanova Basketball: 5 Things We've Learned About Wildcats in 2013-14

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    At 23-3, the Villanova Wildcats have exceeded all expectations that they had coming into the 2013-14 season. 

    The Wildcats were expected to be in the middle of the pack in the Big East at best because of a young core and little veteran experience on the roster. 

    With five games left in the regular season, Villanova has proven to be not only one of the best teams in the Big East, but one of the best in the nation as it is ranked ninth in the most recent AP poll. 

    The play of the Wildcats has certainly taught us plenty of things about Jay Wright's team, and here we will look at the five most important things we have learned about them. 

Creighton Is the Wildcats' Achilles' Heel

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    As we have noticed by now, the Wildcats have a big Achilles' heel in the form of the Creighton Bluejays. 

    Two of the three losses suffered by the team this season came at the hands of Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge and the rest of the experienced Bluejays. 

    Luckily for the Wildcats, there are not many teams like Creighton out there, and they should be able to avoid a massive matchup problem like the one the Bluejays possess in the postseason.

    The bad news for Villanova is that it could face Creighton for a third time in the final of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 15. 

The Wildcats Know How to Respond to Adversity

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    One of the most impressive attributes of the Wildcats this season has been the resolve they have shown in the face of adversity. 

    In the game following each of its three defeats, Villanova went into overtime and won. 

    The latest stellar showing from the Wildcats came on Tuesday night when they defeated Providence in double overtime at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. 

    Another standout statistic from the three bounce-back wins is that all of the victories have come on the road. 

     

Daniel Ochefu Has Exceeded His Own Personal Expectations

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    One of the reasons why Villanova is 23-3 this season is the play of Daniel Ochefu in the paint. 

    While he is not a massive game-changer, the sophomore center has come in to his own at the position, and he has given the Wildcats a viable scoring and rebounding option down low. 

    Ochefu, who has started 25 of the team's 26 games, averages 6.1 points and six rebounds per game as well as 1.6 blocks per contest. 

    He did not have to put up mercurial numbers coming into the season, but the numbers he has produced have been enough for the Wildcats to establish a paint game as the season inches closer to March.

James Bell Is the Undisputed Leader of the Team

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Senior guard James Bell has received plenty of praise for his play this season, and he deserves every single second of it. 

    Bell got off to a hot start in nonconference play, and he has failed to slow down as the schedule winds down.

    With 16.1 points per game, Bell is the team's leading scorer and he is also one of the better shooters at 45 percent from the field.

    He has also brought plenty of intangibles to the court to help a young team prosper like no one thought it would this season. 

The Wildcats Have More Contributors on the Roster Than We First Thought

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    Heading into the season, the Wildcats knew they could count on the likes of Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard, but they were unaware of what they would get out of Bell, Ochefu and two freshmen, Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart. 

    As the postseason quickly approaches, Bell and Ochefu have played great this season for the Wildcats, while Jenkins and Hart have delivered solid minutes off of the bench when called upon. 

    With nine reliable contributors in each of its 23 wins this season, Villanova has built a depth chart that could rival most teams in the nation.

    That depth could be one of the key reasons why the Wildcats make a run deep in the postseason.

     

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