Like Marquette, Villanova waited until the Big East schedule was announced to release its full schedule.
As we have been doing here at Today’s U, we will just be breaking down the non-conference portion of schedules. And last, but certainly not least, will be the breakdown of the Villanova’s non-conference schedule.
Coming off an exhilarating NCAA championship run, the Wildcats will no doubt feel pressure— both internally and externally—to repeat. The schedule head coach Jay Wright assembled for his team will no doubt toughen them up as they gear up for said repeat.
Let’s wrap up our breakdown of Big East non-conference schedules with a look at Villanova’s 2016-17 slate.
Note: RPIs courtesy of KenPom.com
Lafayette, 11/11/16 (home)- This is like throwing lambs into a wolf den. For Villanova’s home opener, the Wildcats will feast on a Leopards’ team that won just six games last season and finished with a gross 323 RPI.
College of Charleston, 11/23/16 (home)– The Wildcats likely won’t play Charleston in the scheduled Charleston Classic, but they will for sure on November 23. Wherever they play them, Villanova should have it easy, especially with Charleston losing Canyon Barry to Florida.
Penn, 11/29/16 (away)- Penn used to present a decent challenge for Villanova, but considering the Wildcats beat the Quakers last season by 20 points and the fact Penn is coming off another sub-par season, this year’s contest should bear similar results—even with the game on the road.
American, 12/21/16 (home)- Here is another Patriot League team that Villanova should throttle. The Eagles ended their season with a sub-300 RPI (302) and will have no shot in this affair.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) September 13, 2016
Non-cupcake games, but games Villanova should win
Western Michigan, 11/17/16 (neutral)- As part of the first round of the Gidan Charleston Classic, Villanova draws Western Michigan. While it should be a game Villanova easily wins, it’s hard to call a team from the MAC a true cupcake. That said, the Broncos did struggle to a 13-19 record last year. This could get ugly quick.
La Salle, 12/6/16 (neutral)- The same that was said about Western Michigan can be said for La Salle here. The Explorers had an uneventful 2015-16 campaign en route to a last-place finish in the Atlantic 10. However, with this being a Big 5 matchup—and to played at the Palestra—you have to throw out the record books.
Saint Joseph’s, 12/3/16 (home)- This could perhaps be labeled as a marquee game, but considering Saint Joseph’s loses both DeAndre Bembry and Isaiah Miles and lost to Villanova by 14 points last season, this is a game that the Wildcats should win.
Purdue, 11/14/16 (away)- As part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, we’ll all be treated to a great contest between two likely top-20 teams. After the Wildcats get their cupcake (Lafayette) out of their system, they will hit the road a for stern test in facing the Boilermakers. Purdue returns Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards, and with the game on their home court, the Boilermakers will give the Wildcats all they can handle.
Notre Dame, 12/10/16 (neutral)- While the Irish lose Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste, head coach Mike Brey has enough talent coming back (Steve Vasturia, Bonzie Colson and V.J. Beachem) to give Wright’s squad a run for their money. This will be part of the Never Forget Tribute Classic to be played in Newark, New Jersey and this has the making to be an offensive showcase.
Temple, 12/13/16 (home)- Temple should be Villanova’s fourth Big 5 victim. Although Temple made last season’s NCAA Tournament, the Owls lose Quenton DeCosey and bring back just two starters.
Virginia, 1/29/17 (home)- We’ll have to wait until the calendar flips to 2017 to witness this eagerly anticipated rematch from last year. As part of a home-and-home series, Villanova will be looking for revenge after the Wildcats lost one of their few games to Virginia in Charlottesville last year. Both teams figure to be ranked pretty high when they meet and it will once again be great to see Wright and Tony Bennett match wits.
To be determined
UTEP or Wake Forest, 11/18/16 (neutral)- Whether they play UTEP or Wake Forest in the second round of the Gildan Charleston Classic, it really shouldn’t matter as the Wildcats will be heavily favored in either matchup. Given the likelihood that both Villanova and Wake Forest should win, it’s probable that the Wildcats will take on Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons. While Manning is raising the talent level in Winston-Salem, the Deacs should be no match for the defending champions.
On the other side of the Gildan Charleston Classic bracket is Mississippi State, Boise State, Central Florida and the aforementioned host team Charleston. If you had to predict, expect Villanova to take on a much-improved Mississippi State team coached by Ben Howland in the championship.
That all said, it may be considered a huge disappointment if the Wildcats don’t come away the title in what is an otherwise weak field.