Team Name- Villanova Wildcats (#1), 28-3 (16-2)
Coach- Jay Wright
Top Performer- James Bell (14.9PPG, 6.0 RPG, 81.0 FT %)
Villanova’s Season- Jay Wright’s Wildcats have had a marvelous season thus far and look to continue their unexpected run into postseason play (Predicted 4th in Big East preseason). Jay Wright went back to his Villanova roots this year and incorporated a team of basketball players rather than those limited to one position. The Wildcats feature interchangeable parts which help to create devastating mismatches for the opposition. Heading into the Big East Tournament, Villanova is playing some of their best basketball of the year and they expect to win the tournament. However, it is expected to have to go through Creighton to do so and the Bluejays have been one of the few teams to break down the Wildcats.
Villanova’s Road- Thursday 12pm against the winner of Butler/Seton Hall, Friday (if necessary) at 7pm against the winner of St. John’s/Providence
Villanova’s Prospects- The Cats are coming off their greatest regular season in school history posting a record of 28-3 and winners of the Big East regular season title. Seton Hall or Butler should be no problem for the wildcats on Thursday afternoon; however, the semifinal game against either Providence or St. John’s could pose a serious threat. Villanova had a hard time finishing off Providence when they played at the Dunkin Donuts Center and St. John’s is easily the most athletic team in the Big East. On top of that, St. John’s will be playing in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden, and will no doubt have huge local support. The Wildcats should expect to win the Big East tournament, but will need to adjust their defensive strategy against Creighton to do.
NCAA Prospects- The Cats are a lock for the NCAA tournament, and as of right now have a 1 seed according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi (which Zurg called for weeks ago). If they stay hot, they should retain that position and have plenty of momentum heading into the Big Dance. This team has a certain chemistry and love for one another that reminds me of the 2009 Final Four team. Yes I went there, why not?
Slinky’s Take- Villanova will almost always outwork its opponents and if the shots fall, there is no ceiling high enough with this team (unless they play Creighton in the NCAA). I see a Big East title for them and a deep run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA’s. Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono’s play will be the key to see how far the Cats can go. This team is built on defense, hustle, and a great mental approach. All of these travel well – and it is why I believe the Cats are for real and they are spectacular.