Villanova looks primed and ready for the Big East tournament. With the win this afternoon over Marquette, the Wildcats improve to 26-3 on the season and 14-2 in the Big East. This is by no means coach Jay Wright‘s most skilled team but it might be his best.
Villanova is led by lone senior guard, James Bell. Bell leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game. He averages 6.1 rebounds per game.
The reason this might be Wright’s best team is because of their depth and team play. Offensively, they are extremely unselfish as they move the ball around with ease until they find an open shot. They love the three-point shot but junior JayVaughn Pinkston is a threat in the lane.
Defensively, the team is relentless. Villanova typically utilizes a shorter lineup but it makes up for its lack of height with heart and effort. It outworks its opponents and is excellent with switching off. Considering the Wildcats’ top player only averages 6.1 rebounds per game, they box out as a team and everyone helps out. They average 37.4 rebounds per game and their opponents only average 25.8 rebounds per game.
Creighton is the only team in the Big East to defeat Villanova this season and it has done so twice. Creighton is a team that lives and dies by the three and in both games against Villanova it was at its very best. With the Big East tournament just around the corner, it will need to design a way to slow Creighton down.
Wright is one of the best coaches in all of college basketball and will be tested if the teams meet again. He has led Villanova to the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine seasons including four Sweet 16 appearances, two Elite Eights and one trip to the Final Four.
The game this afternoon proved the team’s depth as Bell was held scoreless for the first time all season. Junior guard Darrun Hilliard stepped up, scoring a career-high 26 points. In total eight players scored and three players recorded double digits, including freshman guard Josh Hart off the bench.
The team has bought into Wright and his staff. As long as Villanova can continue to outwork its opponents it will be a very dangerous team.
The Wildcats should make a statement and run through the Big East tournament next week and win the Big East championship. From there they will turn their attention to the real prize, the NCAA tournament where they will be a threat to make a big run.