Piecing together the 2013-14 schedule for Men's Basketball

USA TODAY Sports

Villanova has rarely been among the first schools to finalize and release its men's basketball schedules, and this year will likely be no different. What we do know is that the team will travel to the Bahamas over Thanksgiving break for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, and they will definitely play at Syracuse on December 28th — those games have been announced officially, either by the school or by the tournament's media relations group.

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS, the 'Cats are also slated to play Towson and Delaware in addition to the usual four Big 5 games. As it currently stands, that allows us to begin the process of piecing together the 2013-14 Wildcats' schedule, even if we don't have dates for the games in question.

Conference Games

With 10 teams the new Big East conference is expected to play a double-round robin with each team coming to Philadelphia and Villanova visiting each of its nine conference opponents. While we don't have exact dates on any of those games (and likely won't for a while — potentially not until the Fall), we can go ahead and lock down 18 games for the Wildcats.

They will play each of the following schools twice, home and away, starting in January: Georgetown, Marquette, St. John's, Xavier, Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul.

The schools comprising Villanova's conference slate averaged an RPI ranking of 65.4 last season. By comparison, the 2012-13 "old" Big East conference that the 'Cats played in most recently averaged an RPI ranking of 68.1 (but, to be fair, Creighton

Non-Conference Games

With 19 games accounted for, the Wildcats are left with 12 non-conference spots to fill on the schedule. Three of those games will be played in the Bahamas against some combination of Kansas, Tennessee, USC, UTEP, Xavier, Wake Forest and Iowa (average RPI rank last season of 83.8), depending on how the bracket is constructed and who advances to which games. All of those games will be played at a neutral site (obviously). That leaves nine non-conference slots.

Here are the ones we know of already:

  1. AT Temple
  2. AT St. Joseph's
  3. La Salle
  4. Towson
  5. Penn
  6. Delaware
  7. AT Syracuse (December 28)
The average RPI ranking last season of those seven schools was 106.4, and by adding in the average of the Battle 4 Atlantis opponents, the 2013-14 non-conference schedule for Villanova had an average RPI ranking of 99.6 for last season.

With two spots remaining unknown, the scheduling strategy for Villanova remains wide-open. With no UConn, Louisville, Pitt, West Virginia, Cincinnati or Notre Dame to face in conference play, the 'Cats may opt for a tougher slate outside of Big East play. However, early challenges create potential for early struggles, so don't be surprised to see common "patsy" opponents like new MAAC member Monmouth (RPI 280), or conference-less NJIT (RPI 306) make an appearance on the schedule.

They have also played schools from the Ivy and Patriot Leagues relatively frequently. They have played Lehigh (RPI 115), Lafayette (151), Bucknell, and (famously?) Columbia (278) in recent seasons. We can rule out Bucknell (54), however, after the Bison released a Villanova-less non-conference slate this week.

In the past, the 'Cats had scheduled at least one "big name" non-conference opponent either home or away in addition to playing their usual pre-season tournament and the Big 5 games. The rest of the non-conference schedule was normally littered with small-name schools from one- or two- bid conferences.

A greater need for big draws to fill the stands at the Wells Fargo Center could also drive the Wildcats to seek more high-profile games. Maryland (RPI 63) was a good draw at the WFC a few years ago, drawing over 17,000 to fill the stands. A number of other ACC schools and former old Big East foes would likely draw similar or better crowds to the cavernous South Philly Arena.

So which schools will fill the final two non-conference slots for Villanova? Those slots may already be filled and yet-to-be-announced, but if they remain open, which schools would you want to see?
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