Villanova would obviously like to open the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis with a victory over Southern California, but is a victory there necessary for the 'Cats NCAA Tournament resume? Rant Sports' Trevor Lowry argues that beating USC will be a must, so that the Wildcats can add the Kansas Jayhawks to their schedule this season. The 'Cats' schedule was finalized a few weeks ago and most fans will be looking toward the stretch of games from November 28th to 30th.
In addition to that Battle 4 Atlantis slate, however, the Wildcats will also play at Syracuse and against a Big 5 slate that is stronger than it has been in a while, now that La Salle is a legitimate contender at the top of the A-10. Outside of those competitions, there are a few patsy games and the Big East schedule.
Based on previous years, Villanova has rarely needed a hellish out-of-conference schedule to catch on to an at-large bid. The Wildcats could schedule some early wins and a good pre-season tournament and plan to put their effort in during the Big East schedule.
That's essentially what happened last season, where the Wildcats were not considered NCAA-worthy after a mediocre run in their non-conference schedule, but post-New Years heroics pushed them into the 8/9 game in March Madness.
This season, however, the Big East is different. Syracuse is a non-conference game now, and the Wildcats won't play Louisville, Pitt, or UConn, to add a little extra "oomph" to the league schedule. Instead, they will play a round-robin with Georgetown, Marquette, St. John's, Butler, Creighton, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul.
If the newcomers -- Creighton, Xavier and Butler -- can't live up to the standards of last-season's Syracuse, Louisville, UConn and Pitt, then Lowry easily has a point. The Wildcats might need a game against Kansas to boost their strength of schedule rating under those circumstances.
Villanova isn't worried about it though.
"We're going to approach this like we're going to have the same opportunities with this new league," Jay Wright told CBSsports.com when asked about his non-conference schedule. "We think at this time that the teams in the league are going to be just as good.
"At the end of this season, we'll revisit it and see if that question is something we have to address."
The 'Cats are convinced that their Big East-reboot schedule will hold up as well as the version of the league that they participated in until last season. If that belief is correct, then playing Kansas on Paradise Island this Fall is more of a bonus than a must.
Early wins, however, are a good set-up for success later in the season and can help build a tournament resume that warrants a great seeding. So Jay Wright won't be sweating much over whether getting Kansas on his slate in the Bahamas is important, he will be trying to prepare his team to come home with three wins.