@ESPNLunardi Who would you take in a neutral court setting (equal amounts of both fans) Nova vs Drexel?— Marshall (@animalmarshall) December 18, 2013
Drexel may be the second-best team in Philadelphia, and they are certainly the best Division I school in the city that Villanova won't play this season, but are they really a challenger to the 'Cats? Drexel fans, aficionados, and media folks looking for controversy often raise the question of whether the CAA program with a high school-sized gym should be included in the Big 5 round-robin -- they never have been.
Four local games per season doesn't eat up a terrible amount of non-conference schedule space, but a fifth could make things tighter. Which game would be dropped if Villanova played Drexel this season? Would it be Lafayette or Rider, two easier wins, or would it be Syracuse?
If Villanova remains committed to the full Big 5 slate every season, it may be difficult to accommodate another local school every year. It isn't an insult to Drexel, the Dragons were just late to the Division I party, joining Division 1 in 1973, almost two decades after the Big 5 series had launched. It took them even longer to build their program into one that competes for conference titles and NCAA Tournament bids (the Dragons have just three -- 1986, 1994, 1995 and 1996).
In fact, Villanova has played Drexel 12 times, with an all-time record of 11 wins and just one loss and an average margin of victory of 14 points.
Nonetheless, the "DAC Pack" faithful have pushed for more inclusion. For example, the above-embedded tweet garnered a response from ESPN's Joe Lunardi and led to the following exchange:
@ESPNLunardi Wrong. The correct answer is Nova should man-up & play DU so we'd know for sure. (Props to your Hawks giving playing true H&H)— Marshall (@animalmarshall) December 18, 2013
Is it stupid? Villanova has a top-10 RPI, and playing La Salle appears to have caused them to dip in those ratings to number-10. Drexel ranks 40th, significantly better than the Explorers, but in terms of schedule strength, La Salle's RPI rating can easily get better playing in an Atlantic-10 conference that rates 7th in RPI, while the Dragons' CAA conference offers fewer opportunities to make gains.
It isn't just about RPI, however. Would Drexel play at Villanova with no expected return date at the DAC? Villanova doesn't pay the Big 5 schools big money to play at the Pavilion, instead, they play at those schools every other year. Drexel doesn't offer a big crowd, great television exposure, or access to alumni that Villanova doesn't normally get to play in front of. It isn't a big gym that can accommodate "travelling" Wildcats fans. It isn't a traditional rivalry that will help sell tickets when it returns to the Pavilion.
In short, Drexel would be a classic "buy" game, and the better the Dragons are, the less likely the 'Cats are to cut a check to schedule them.
What are your thoughts, should Villanova schedule Drexel regularly? Should the Big 5 become a City 6?