An experienced and talented Villanova enters the season ranked No. 6 in both the Coaches and AP polls, but is not expected to win the Big East. Such is life in the country’s best basketball conference, where the Wildcats are picked to finish behind Pitt. In fact, Villanova received fewer first-place votes than both Pitt and Syracuse.
But being amongst the top three in the Big East is an honor in itself. With a guard-heavy lineup focused around first-team preseason All-Big East guard Corey Fisher, the Wildcats look to be one of the hardest teams to prepare for and match up against.
Fisher is not the only Villanova guard named Corey who will give oppositions headaches. Corey Stokes and Fisher combine to form one of the top guard tandems in the Big East. They will be paired with either Maalik Wayns or Dominic Cheek in the back court.
Power forward Antonio Pena and center Mouphtaou Yarou are also expected to start and Coach Jay Wright has the option of adding another forward, Isaiah Armwood, to the mix to give Villanova the bigger lineup it may need against some of the more physical Big East teams.
Yarou could be the most intriguing player on the Villanova roster. A 6'10" sophomore that immigrated to the United States from Benin in 2007, Yarou saved the Wildcats last season from becoming a part of history. As Villanova struggled mightily in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against No. 15 Robert Morris, it was Yarou who stepped up and delivered with a 17-point performance off the bench in a 73-70 win.
Villanova Wildcats College Basketball: Offseason Changes
The loss of Scottie Reynolds and his 18-plus points per game cannot be understated. Forward Taylor King transferred to Southern Cal. He averaged more than 19 minutes per game last season and his loss will be felt in the paint, as he was second on the team in rebounding. As far as newcomers, coach Wright will have the luxury of not having to call on a talented freshman class right away, and that’s a good thing. Heralded recruit James Bell, a guard, is working his way back from offseason injuries, and JayVaughn Pinkston is a raw talent at power forward. Both, especially Bell, could find their way into a starting or sixth-man role.
Villanova Wildcats College Basketball Outlook
If Fisher can play more like Reynolds did the past two seasons and Stokes and Wayns do what they are capable of, Villanova may have the best guard trio in the conference. They will have superior guard play to hang with the big boys of the Big East and with Wright at coach, a lack of size should not be too much to worry about.
Villanova College Basketball Odds
Villanova is tied with Pitt with the best odds to win the Big East (+250). Both teams are ahead of other conference contenders including Syracuse (+500) and Georgetown (+650). The Wildcats are listed at 20/1 to win the National Championship.
Villanova Wildcats Basketball Schedule
The Villanova schedule starts with a home date against Bucknell on Nov. 12, but the season really begins in earnest when the Wildcats host Marist as part of the 16-team field in the NIT Season Tip-Off. They are the host of the Northeast regional, with one team advancing to Madison Square Garden. The Big East schedule begins the day after New Years on Jan. 2, when Villanova hosts Rutgers.
Villanova College Basketball Predictions and Betting Picks
This Villanova team has the experience to make a run at a Big East title, but they do not have the size or physical play that time and time again has proven to be the difference come conference play. However, the more physical Big East teams always seem to struggle in the NCAA Tournament, but with the Coreys at guards and Wright at the helm, if Villanova gets a decent seed, like it should, the Wildcats could be a serious dark horse in the big dance, especially at 20/1.