College Basketball is back and we are back with our report on Villanova Basketball. Last season came to an abrupt end in the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats finished the season 24-7 (13-5 in Big East) and in a three-way tie for the Big East title. They were the #10 team in the AP poll and a projected #3 seed in the Tourney prior to the season being canceled.
The 2020-2021 season has been a great start for the Wildcats thus far. They lost Saddiq Bey to the draft, but the Wildcats hold a well-balanced roster overall. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl leads the team with 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Collin Gillespie leads the team in assists with 4.8 and is second in scoring at 14.4 PPG. Five players are averaging double-digits in scoring.
Villanova is a top 50 offense (50th in PPG), 16th in free throw percentage (77.8%), and 3rd in the country in assist to turnover ratio (1.7). Overall, the Wildcats are a decent rebounding team (+2 differential per game) and +4 in turnover differential per game.
Villanova is very similar to the team we saw last season. They’re a smart, well-balanced team who controls their own destiny in the conference right now. Following Wednesday’s demolition of Marquette, the Wildcats are sitting at 13-2 overall and 8-1 in the Big East. The conference standings are a little wonky, as Creighton are somehow tied atop the standings with an 11-4 conference record.
Villanova Schedule thus far
NOV 25 (W) – Boston College 76-67
NOV 26 (W) – Arizona State 83-74
NOV 28 (L) – Virginia Tech 73-81
DEC 1 (W) – Hartford 87-53
DEC 6 (W) – Texas 68-64
DEC 11 (W) – Georgetown 76-63
DEC 16 (W) – Butler 85-63
DEC 19 (W) – Saint Joseph’s 88-68
DEC 23 (W) – Marquette 85-68
JAN 19 (W) – Seton Hall 76-74
JAN 23 (W) – Providence 71-56
JAN 30 (W) – Seton Hall 80-72
FEB 3 (L) – St. John’s 59-70
FEB 7 (W) – Georgetown 84-74
FEB 10 (W) – Marquette 96-64
Preview for this week
This Saturday, Villanova (13-2, 8-1) will travel to Omaha to face the 19th ranked Creighton Jays (15-5, 11-4) at CHI Health Center Arena. The Jays are currently the second-ranked team in the conference and are led by the guard duo of Denzel Mahoney (14.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG) and Marcus Zegarowski (14.4 PPG, 4 RPG, 4.3 APG).
The Jays are very similar to the Wildcats from a team perspective. Both are good ball movement teams, with the Wildcats having an edge in rebounding. The Jays are a little better from deep, but both teams average around ten threes per game. The Jays are better from two, ranking 14th in the nation at 57.5%. They get to the basket easily, using that superior ball movement and penetration.
It’s going to be a tough task to beat the Jays at home. Sure, the Wildcats are the better team on paper, but I fear the interior defense of Villanova will struggle to defend the athletic Creighton guards driving into the paint.
The key here will be the shooting for the Wildcats and getting easier baskets in the paint. When the Jays are rolling with their small-ball lineup, James Robinson-Earl needs to step up on both the boards and offensively in the paint. He will be the key to success for the Wildcats in this game. He’s going to have matchup advantages throughout the contest and the Wildcats will lean heavily on him.
Prediction: Villanova 81 Creighton 77
Villanova is -182 to win the Big East
According to odds from the DraftKings online sportsbook, Villanova is currently -182 to win the Big East.
When looking at the standings (for whatever method they’re using to determine the league leader with vast game differentials), Villanova has a full game lead in the Big East title hunt (over Creighton). Among their remaining difficult games are St. John’s, UCONN, and Creighton (twice).
Creighton, the next closest team in the conference, still has to play Villanova twice, as well as Xavier and Butler (whom they lost to earlier this year).