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Cats Early Season Favorites...

Not to win the national championship, but to win the 16-team field Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off.  If you don't know the details, here is a breakdown of the dates and teams for the tourney.  On paper, Villanova probably should be the pick to win this tournament but if recent history is any indication, escaping with 4 wins will be no easy task.  Remember last year in an early season tournament when Isaiah Armwood bailed the Cats out from a major upset when he nailed a 3 with seconds remaining to beat a gritty George Mason squad.  Nonetheless, numerous Rivals contributors are picking the Wildcats to come out on top in this tourney

More after the jump...

A critical factor in the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off and the entire season as a whole could be the emergence of sophomore guard Maalik Wayns.  He certainly showed some flashes of brilliance last year in a loaded backcourt, and he did it in some big games, including the NCAA Tournament Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated believes Wayns is poised for a big 2nd year campaign.

From all the articles and clippings I've read over the summer, it's always Mouphtaou Yarou or Wayns being mentioned as candidates to really make an impact this year.  More importantly, in my opinion, I thinks Maalik can inspire this team to get back to the basketball that Villanova teams have prided themselves on in the past.  Wayns is a fearless, tough kid who will make mistakes at times but will always play hard no matter what.  This type of play seemed to be lacking at the end of last year, so the Cats need to capture that "do whatever it takes" mentality again.  As summer comes to an end, we are only a few short months away from the college basketball season.