The Villanova Wildcats will return to action on Wednesday when they host the American Eagles at the Pavilion. The game is the team's first in eight days and will be their final tune-up before Big East play begins against DePaul a week later. The Wildcats enter the game on a 17-game win streak, which is both the longest in the country and the longest in program history.
Trying to score the major upset on Wednesday is American, which enters the contest with a 3-7 overall record. While Villanova and American don't have as much history as other non-conference Wildcats opponents, the two teams met in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament in Philadelphia, when the Eagles actually held a 10-point halftime lead before falling 80-67. Here are three things to watch when they play on Wednesday evening:
Does extra practice time mean an ever better Villanova team?
With eight days between games, Villanova will enter the contest against American coming off of its longest layoff of the season. These long breaks have always been a time under Jay Wright in which the Wildcats have responded by playing sharper, better basketball. With the Big East schedule right around the corner, Wednesday's game might be a preview of Villanova's best self. Wright has undoubtedly used the extra time off to work on any lingering issues, and American should be expecting a recharged Villanova group.
An opportunity for Delaney and Painter
By being forced to go to a seven-man rotation because of the Phil Booth injury, this Wildcats group is always one injury or foul trouble away from potential depth issues. Because of that, any sort of impact the team can get this season from Tim Delaney or Dylan Painter would be a huge boost. The game against American might be the team's last opportunity to get those two big men anything more than garbage time minutes. Neither have looked very comfortable on the floor so far, but a chance to get more involved in the rotation going forward could present itself with strong play on Wednesday.
What's next for Hart?
Over his last four games, Josh Hart is averaging 25 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5 assists per game. That performance has rightfully put him at the top of many Player of the Year lists at this point of the season. The most impressive part of that stretch has been that it has come against a tough stretch that included St. Joseph's, La Salle, Notre Dame and Temple. On Wednesday, American should have even less of an answer for Hart than those other teams, so will Hart put up some more gaudy stats or will the level of opponent mean he won't have to do as much on the floor?