Villanova Basketball: Mismatches Wildcats Are Dreading in 2014-15

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 28:  Baye Moussa Keita #12 of the Syracuse Orange boxes out JayVaughn Pinkston #22 of the Villanova Wildcats following a free throw attempt in the second half on December 28, 2013 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

After such a rewarding 2013-14 season, the Villanova Wildcats will once again face plenty of tests throughout the upcoming season. 

As always, head coach Jay Wright has put together a difficult nonconference schedule that will see only a few easy wins in November and December. 

Not only will the Wildcats run into mismatches on the court in nonconference play, but they will also see a few when Big East play begins. 

Below is a look at the biggest mismatches that the Wildcats are dreading heading into the 2014-15 campaign. 

 

The Syracuse Zone 

The good news for Villanova is that its rivalry with Syracuse will be continued for another year with a game at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Dec 28, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward JayVaughn Pinkston (22) looks to pass the ball around Syracuse Orange forward Jerami Grant (3) and center Baye Moussa Keita (12) and forward Michael Gbinije (0) during the first half at the Carri
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The bad news is that the Wildcats have to go up against the stifling zone defense that Jim Boeheim's Orange brings with them wherever they go. 

When the two sides met up at the Carrier Dome in December, the zone, along with some porous shooting by the Wildcats, held Villanova to just 62 points in a 16-point loss. 

With revenge against a rival on their minds, look for the Villanova guards to have even more fire in their bellies for this game, but they will still have to deal with the difficult zone, which makes the best teams look average. 

 

Havoc

The first opponent for the Wildcats at the Legends Classic has not been decided yet, but one of the two potential teams they could face at the Barclays Center is VCU. 

Shaka Smart's Rams are known for their relentless pressure defense, which we all know as "Havoc." 

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15: Head coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams reacts to a play in the first half against the George Washington Colonials during the Semifinals of the 2014 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament  at Barclays Center on M
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Few teams display such athleticism and stamina on both sides of the court than the Rams, which could make ball-handling a difficult task for the stable of guards in the Villanova lineup. 

If Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard can't deal with the press in the right way, the Wildcats could easily fall to their Atlantic 10 foe. 

 

Caris Levert 

The other team that the Wildcats will face in the Legends Classic is Michigan, who confirmed the matchup when its nonconference schedule was released Tuesday: 

Although the Wolverines lost a few key pieces in the form of Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, they have one returner who is a major threat to the Wildcats defense. 

Caris Levert broke out as a star for Michigan during Big Ten play in 2014, and he should be able to carry those numbers over to his junior season with the spotlight shining bright on him.

The Wildcats will not face many superstars of the game thanks to the departing talent from the Big East, so taking on Levert and the Wolverines will be a nice challenge for players like Hilliard and Josh Hart, who could play a major role defensively during the 2014-15 season.

 

Matt Stainbrook

The one big name returning from the biggest threats to Villanova's Big East throne last season is Xavier's Matt Stainbrook. 

With Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge and Semaj Christon all gone from either Creighton and Xavier, Stainbrook is the lone star who can put up tremendous numbers on the Wildcats in conference play.

While there may be a few other players in the conference that can hurt Villanova on any given night, Stainbrook is one that brings consistency—and a major matchup problem—to the court. 

Feb 3, 2014; Villanova, PA, USA; Xavier Musketeers center Matt Stainbrook (40) shoots under pressure from Villanova Wildcats forward JayVaughn Pinkston (22) during the second half at The Pavilion. Villanova defeated Xavier 81-58. Mandatory Credit: Howard
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The rising senior averaged 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Musketeers during the 2013-14 season, and more importantly, he poses a threat to Daniel Ochefu down low. 

With an experienced hand in the paint, Xavier does carry one advantage into the two games with the Wildcats due to Ochefu's low numbers in his sophomore season at center. 

 

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