Villanova Wildcats Surprising Flying Under The Radar
Maybe it has something to do with that 28 point drubbing they suffered at the hands of Creighton just over two weeks ago in Philly. Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that the Big East has taken a giant step back and no longer receives the same notoriety that it once did. Whatever the reason may be, Jay Wright‘s 20-2, Big East leading Villanova Wildcats are greatly flying under the college basketball radar, and I can’t understand why.
It’s pretty rare to be able to find a 20-2 (8-1 Big East) team who is not garnering enough national attention in February. However, this Nova team appears to be an exception. Much of the talk around college basketball these days pertains to the ridiculously talented freshman, and deservedly so. And when chatter arises about which teams are Final 4 and National Championship contenders, Villanova seems to be excluded from those discussions.
The two reasons mentioned above are certainly logical, and it’s conceivable to assume that there are many other explanations for why this is as well. That 28 point home loss was undeniably alarming, and even more so was the way Villanova played transition defense in that game, allowing 21 made three pointers. And in terms of the Big East, there’s absolutely no denying that this “new” conference is a lesser version of the old one.
Other causes for concern could be Nova’s overall lack of front court depth accompanied by their inability to score in the low post. Additionally, they are probably too reliant on the three ball in order for them to have success. For attempting the fourth most three-point field goals in the country at 568, Villanova has only connected on 201 of those shots, which equates to 35.4 percent. That’s 139th best in all of college basketball. There is validation for question marks and concerns, but 20-2 is 20-2.
This Villanova team just seems to have the “it” factor, whatever that might be. They have an excellent coach in Wright to go along with sensational, elite guard play. The Wildcats boast marquee wins over the likes of Kansas and Iowa and played No. 1 ranked Syracuse extremely tough in the Carrier Dome. The Creighton game, in my estimation, was a bit of an anomaly. Sure, Nova played and defended poorly, but still, 21 made three pointers is just absurd, and so unlikely to ever happen again, epecially against Wright and co., who have been terrific on defense for majority of this season.
It’s often stated that great guard play wins championships. If that’s the case, Villanova is in really good shape. James Bell, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono all average at least 10 points per night. All three can beat you from three, and the 6-foot-6 Bell can also use his body to attack the rim off the dribble effectively. While the trio of guards are highly successful, I’ve yet to even mention the x-factor in Villanova going from being a good team to a great team. That’s 6-foot-7, 260 pound swing man, JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston can beat you from inside and out, and although undersized for a power forward, the guy really battles. His versatility will be a huge determinant in how far Villanova goes in March as he anchors the front court.
The Wildcats are 20-2 and have a very real shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, folks. Start paying attention.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Columnist for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27