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The Nova Blog Basketball Season Preview!

(Editor's Note: This is long. Like longer than anything we've ever put together. It qualifies for a print-out and a trip to 'the office.')

Here it is, the mother of all Villanova Wildcats basketball previews. We here at The Nova Blog, your loyal servants to all things Villanova, have gone through and dissected the schedule to try and determine what's in store for our Wildcats this season. We've got comments on games from all our bloggers Pops and myself, basically because we're the only non-lazy ones around here.

Trask is too busy living the city life, The Dream is playing Sal Paolantonio down at Villanova, and Ulep is God knows where. Quite possibly face-down in an emptied out pool somewhere.

Before we get to the schedule predictions, we want to make sure you're all caught up on all the great pre-season Villanova action from around the 'Nova blogosphere:

VUHoops - Wisdom of Crowds Experiments

Villanova By The Numbers - greyCat previews our Wildcats

Nova News - A player-by-player synopsis

Please share your feelings in the comments. Criticism appreciated, aggressive non-sensical remarks most certainly welcome as well. The 2010-2011 Villanova schedule predictions after The Jump.

The Villanova Wildcats 2010 basketball schedule, with comments on select games!

November 12th - vs. Bucknell Bison - Consensus Victory

November 16th - vs. Marist Red Foxes (NIT) - Consensus Victory

November 17th - Boston U. Terriers / George Washington Colonials (NIT) - Consensus Victory

November 20th - vs. Lafayette Leopards - Consensus Victory

November 22nd - NIT Semi-finals - Consensus Victory

November 23rd - NIT Finals - Pops picks a LOSS

It may seem like Villanova's schedule up until Big East play is a cakewalk. On paper, I would have to
agree, but as we all know, the Big 5 games are always a war. The Big 5 is not where I see the Cats
slipping up though early on, rather the NIT Season Tip-Off could present an interesting challenge.

Villanova is definitely the best team in this tourney, but remember the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico
Tip-Off last season when the Wildcats barely escaped the George Mason Patriots on an Isaiah Armwood
prayer in the opening round. Playing teams you don't normally play is always tough, and in these early
season tournaments, there's little time to scout and prepare.

Villanova has a solid amount of veteran leadership, but how will the underclassmen react to playing in Madison Square Garden for the semis and finals of this tournament? I would expect a Villanova-Tennessee/Wake Forest/maybe even VCU showdown in the championship game. A tight, nerve-wracking game is bound to occur at some point early in the season, so I could see it happening under the bright lights in New York City.

Over the last 4 years, Villanova has relied on Scottie Reynolds to come up clutch in the end, but who's going to take the big shot with Reynolds gone? No one else has taken such a shot on this year's squad, so I smell a loss
here. While it always sucks to lose, this type of experience in such a great atmosphere could prove to be
valuable down the road.

Hopefully, a loss can humble the team, especially with all of the hype entering the season, and Jay Wright can get them back on track to playing "Villanova Basketball" leading into the Big East season.


December 3rd - St. Joseph's Hawks - Consensus Victory

December 8th - at Penn Quakers - Consensus Victory

December 12th - at La Salle Explorers - Consensus Victory

December 18th - vs. Deleware Blue Hens (Wells Fargo Center) - Consensus Victory

December 22nd - at Monmouth Hawks - Consensus Victory

December 30th - vs. Temple Owls - Consensus Victory

The epitome of a revenge game. I won't be able to take losses to these chumps in back-to-back season. And while I call them chumps for personal reasons, the fact is, the Owls are going to be a very good team again. They were one of the top defensive teams in the country last year, and made Villanova look like a pee-wee team.

Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez return to try and take Temple back to the successful days of John Chaney. They are the cream of the crop in the Atlantic 10, but they've got a brutal OOC schedule that will tell us how seriously to take them early on.


January 2nd - vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Consensus Victory

January 6th - at South Florida Bulls - Consensus Victory

January 9th - vs. Cincinnati Bearcats - Consensus Victory

January 12th - vs. Louisville Cardinals (Wells Fargo Center) - Consensus Victory

If you’ve taken a look at the Villanova schedule, you’ll notice that mid-January is when the true tests will
start to take place. One could make an argument that the Louisville game at the Wells Fargo Center
on January 12th represents Villanova’s first challenge of the Big East schedule; the first 3 games against
Rutgers, South Florida, and Cincinnati do not exactly stand out as formidable challenges.

In all honesty, I think the Cardinals may only be able to hang around for a half or so with the Wildcats. Rick Pitino lost almost all of his big guns from last year’s team, including Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa, and Reginald Delk to
graduation and Samardo Samuels to the NBA Draft.

Returning impact players are Terrence Jennings, Preston Knowles, and Jared Swopshire, but in terms of recent history, this may be one of Louisville’s weaker squads. Pitino always gets his players to compete, but in front of a raucous crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, I don’t see the inexperienced Cardinals being able to keep it close for a full forty minutes.

Furthermore, Villanova has to recognize that the middle-late portion of the Big East schedule is no easy
task, so notching W’s against inferior opponents early on is crucial if the Cats want to contend for a
conference crown.

One of the key matchups to watch may be Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena against the Louisville frontcourt. With Samuels gone, there are definitely question marks down low for the Cardinals, so the Nova big guys could potentially put up big numbers. All in all, expect the Cats to pull away in the second half against a well-coached, but young Louisville squad.

Janauary 15th - vs. Maryland Terrapins (Wells Fargo Center) - Consensus Victory

January 17th - at Connecticut Huskies - Chris picks a WIN, all others pick a LOSS

Why all the fear fellas? We've owned the Huskies in recent years - and although Gampel Pavilion is a tough venue to win in, we've done it before - and with a freshman carrying his team on his back nonetheless. Plus, Cat-Killer Stanley Robinson has finally moved on after 13 years up in Storrs. No more earth-shaking put back jams that shut up the 'Nova crowd.

Kemba Walker is a huge talent, nobody can debate that, but he can only guard one of Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher.


January 22nd - at Syracuse Orange - Chris, Pops & Trask pick a LOSS

If this game were at home, it'd be a win. But I'm still shook from the beatdown we took at The Dome last year. Fab Melo is the real deal unfortunately, and should make things difficult down low for Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou. They've still got enough talent on the perimeter with Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine to off-set the losses of Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins.


January 26th - at Providence Friars - Consensus Victory

January 29th - vs. Georgetown Hoyas (Wells Fargo Center) - Chris & Pops picks a LOSS

A Big East rivalry that takes a backseat to the likes of Syracuse-UConn and Syracuse-Georgetown is the
annual showdown between the Wildcats and the Hoyas. To put it nicely, these teams and universities
hate each other, and as the two programs continue to establish themselves in the top tier of the Big East,
the passion and intensity grows.

With Villanova and Georgetown only clashing once this year during the regular season, you can guarantee there will be a lot of emotion at the Wells Fargo Center, with each school knowing that they may only get one shot at their hated counterparts. The Hoyas lost Greg Monroe to the NBA Draft, which definitely hurts the Georgetown interior game, but don’t underestimate the rest of the Hoya squad. John Thompson III can certainly coach, Chris Wright is a seasoned veteran, and whether you agree or not, Austin Freeman was voted Big East Preseason Player of the Year.

Sure, there are some question marks down low for Georgetown, but one guarantee is that the Hoyas will be
tough on the defensive end, which is something that the Nova faithful hope to see from the Cats. In
terms of guard play, most teams cannot match up with the likes of Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and
Maaik Wayns, but the Hoyas are one of the few teams that may be able to as they counter with Wright,
Freeman, and Jason Clark.

Always known for tight, physical affairs, I would expect nothing less out of this version of the Nova-Gtown rivalry, but unfortunately, I am predicting a down-to-the-wire defeat at the hands of the Hoyas.


February 2nd - vs. Marquette Golden Eagles - Consensus Victory

February 5th - vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (Wells Fargo Center) - Trask picks a LOSS

February 9th - at Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Ulep picks a LOSS

February 12th - vs. Pittsburgh Panthers - Consensus Victory

February 15th - at Seton Hall Pirates - Pops & Trask pick a LOSS

If you have spoken with me this offseason, you probably know that my sleeper in the Big East this
year is the Seton Hall Pirates. I actually am quite confident that they will finish in the 5-7 range of the
conference and qualify for the NCAA Tournament. No matter who the Pirates hired, anyone was an
upgrade over the volatile Bobby Gonzalez.

Furthermore, the Pirates return their core players to a squad that lost excruciatingly close games last season. In recent memory, Seton Hall has hung with Villanova; in the 2007-2008 campaign, Dwayne Anderson hit an unlikely trey late in the game to save the Wildcats at home; the following year, it took a 40 point outburst from Scottie Reynolds for the Cats to survive in OT; most recently, Seton Hall stuck around last season for 30 minutes at the Pavilion before fading down the stretch.

Eventually, the Pirates are going to squeak out a victory, and this year is probably the best chance they have. The Cats will have just played the Pittsburgh Panthers before heading to Newark for a
matchup with the Hall in mid February.

Especially if Villanova wins the highly touted match against Pitt, it wouldn’t shock me to see a letdown game 3 days later at the Prudential Center. You can bet Seton Hall will be amped up for this one (as well as Jeremy Hazell chucking up 30 shots from downtown).

February 19th - at DePaul Blue Demons - Consensus Victory

February 21st - vs. Syracuse Orange (Wells Fargo Center) - Consensus Victory

February 26th - vs. St. John's Red Storm (Wells Fargo Center) - Consensus Victory

February 28th - at Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Pops picks a LOSS

March 5th - at Pittsburgh Panthers - Consensus Loss

The BIG EAST game of the year, no matter who you ask (other than Georgetown and Syracuse fans). The two best teams in the conference and two of the best teams in the country. This is a budding rivalry and one that I absolutely HATE to lose.

We're all picking losses because it's on the road. Hopefully, we'll have the title sewn up by then, but if not, this game is going to mean a lot.

Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker vs. Wayns and Fisher will be incredible to watch. Yarou vs. McGhee will be hugely underrated.

If we win this one, I do cartwheels from New York to The Main Line.

Trask: 25-4, 15-3 BIG EAST

Pops: 24-5, 14-4 BIG EAST

Lane: 26-3, 15-3 BIG EAST

Ulep: 26-3, 15-3 BIG EAST

The Dream: 29-2, 16-2 BIG EAST

So there you have it. Pops is our biggest pessimist on the season, but who can really blame him. He's also a New York Mets fan (like myself) and is now prone to depression and low hopes.

Ulep has typically been the most die-hard (read: drunkest) fan at all our games, so it's no surprise that he's got the highest hopes for us - along with myself of course. I believe in closing my eyes, sticking in my fingers in my ears, and yelling while people try to talk rationally to me involving teams I love.

The Dream was probably drunk when he made his picks.

A lot of this of course depends on the the status of JayVaughn Pinkston. Should he be suspended deep into the year, the equation changes. We'd be down to 8 scholarship players until James Bell gets healthy, and our chances for a big season start to go up in flames.

We're going to reserve the right to change our picks barring serious circumstances with an impact on the game - but for the most part, this is it.

Tell us what you think about our prospects for the season in the comments, and definitely feel free to make your own picks!