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VUHoops Roundtable: Who Is Villanova Basketball’s Best All American Candidate?

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Also in the discussion, who will be the country’s last undefeated team and what’s Nova’s best remaining game?

NCAA Basketball: La Salle at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the VUHoops Roundtable! We’ll use this as a space to toss around ideas and talk about both the real and hypothetical questions facing Villanova Basketball. If you have any questions you’d like answered by the VUHoops Staff, you can submit them via email to vuhoopsroundtable@gmail.com.

Who is more likely to be a First Team All-American at the end of the season: Jalen Brunson or Mikal Bridges?

Brendan: I'm sticking with the guy that was the pre-season All-American, Jalen Brunson. Don't get me wrong, Bridges is having himself an amazing season that could make him a Top 10 pick in next year's NBA Draft. But Brunson is probably the most important piece of Villanova's offense, and his leadership is going to get this team through any rough patch they may encounter. I can't see them both making it... but I can dream!

Eugene: Jalen Brunson. Mikal Bridges will probably end up being the better contributor at the next level and will go earlier than Brunson in the NBA Draft, but Brunson is the guy that makes this team go on offense. The way he orchestrates the floor and his demeanor when he sets foot on the hardwood--on top of the numbers to back it up--sets him apart. The 'Cats are on another level when he's on the floor. His leadership, shooting ability, and play making bundled in the form of a player wise beyond his years makes him valuable. I will say, we'll have to enjoy these two while they're still around.

Jack: Brunson. Bridges is phenomenal and one of the most exciting Villanova players we've seen in a long time, but Brunson makes the team click, and the team goes where he goes. I think there's a shot both do get the recognition if they keep this level of play up, but I see Brunson getting more recognition as the floor general than Bridges as the freak athlete and X-Factor for this Villanova team, especially if they grab a top two seed as they have for the past four years.

Ryan: Jalen Brunson is already looking like one of the best pure point-guards in the country. There's no denying Bridges is a freak athlete and can do things on a basketball court that no one else in the country can do, but Brunson has that element of leadership and control that is so rare in the era of one-and-done college basketball. He encapsulates the Jay Wright offense with perfection and controls the tempo and pace of the game with such grace and maturity that you'd think he's been playing college basketball for six years.

Will Villanova be the last remaining undefeated team in the country?

**Editors Note: These answers were submitted prior to Duke’s loss over the weekend**

Brendan: There's a few we can rule out already. If they haven't lost by the time this posts, Georgetown, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Florida State, and TCU all have tough enough games between now and early January that they'll be out of the conversation. That leaves Duke, Miami, and Villanova. Duke and Miami don't have games that really worry me until they play each other on 1/10 in South Beach. If Duke wins, they'll have a tough three day stretch in late January where they host Virginia and Notre Dame, followed a week later by a trip to UNC. I think they lose one of those three and are out of the conversation by the second week in February. If Miami beats Duke, they don't have another big test until they get Virginia at home in mid Feb, followed by trips to Notre Dame and UNC to close out the month.

Villanova has a good chance of staying undefeated through January as well. Even if we make the assumption that Villanova wins all it's home games, their last two weeks in February include trips to Providence, Xavier, Creighton, and Seton Hall. If Duke beats Miami, then I think Villanova will be the last undefeated team in the country. Otherwise, I think it'll be the Huricanes.

Eugene: I said in pre-season that Villanova will go undefeated through January. Once we reach February, it might be a different story. I will double down on that. As Brendan pointed out, the only likely contenders for this question are Duke, Miami, and 'Nova. I think Duke beats Miami and will also make it unscathed through January. The Blue Devils have only lost 10 times at Cameron Indoor Arena since 2007-08, and I predict they'll manage through that tough stretch of @ Wake Forest, then Virginia and Notre Dame at home. They'll run into trouble at UNC on Feb. 8. Unfortunately, that's four days after the 'Cats play Seton Hall, and I have 'Nova losing at the Wells Fargo Center to those darn South Orange Pirates. Villanova and Duke will likely be the last two undefeated teams standing, outlasting everyone else, but the Blue Devils will have 'Nova beat by a few days. Hope you have your Pepto Bismol ready, because there's going to be a lot of Duke love from major networks not named Fox Sports until then.

Jack: Whoever wins Duke/Miami and, surprisingly enough, Arizona State, are the most likely contenders for me. If Villanova is able to get past Xavier on the 10th, they'll have smooth sailing into February, and Duke/Miami will be very deep into tough conference play at that point in the ACC. It really depends on the Xavier game; if Nova wins that, it'll be them, and I imagine they'll win that game since Nova seems to just have Chris Mack's number. If not, I think it'll be the winner of Duke/Miami and Arizona State if they survive Kansas.

Ryan: My preseason prediction had Villanova losing at Butler on Dec. 30th as the first loss of the season. Nova struggles on the road in hostile environments, and Butler will be the first true road test. Duke's matchup on the same day matches them against Florida State, but I can't see them losing at Cameron Indoor. If Nova can win at Butler, I have them going until mid-February until another loss (the game against Xavier will be tough but I will be in attendance and that makes Nova much more likely to win according to my own math). By then, Duke will have played Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia, and UNC and I cannot see them winning all four. Semi-Bold prediction: if Villanova survives away at Butler, they'll be the last undefeated team in the country.

If you could only go to one Villanova game the rest of the regular season, which one would it be?

Brendan: Due to scheduling, we don't face Seton Hall this year until February 4th at the Wells Fargo Center. By then, both of these teams will be playing at their best, and there's a good chance they could be the top two teams in the conference. It's going to be a straight up street fight, and I can't wait to see it.

Eugene: Seton Hall. It'll be a hard-fought battle for whoever wins. Handful of top Big East players between both teams, and they'll make it exciting. A riled up J.P. Macura baiting the crowd would be a close second though.

Jack: Confession: I actually kind of love J.P. Macura, and absolutely love watching him play. The Xavier game on January 10th is going to be a bloodbath, and I'm ready for J.P. Macura and Omari to jaw at each other all game. I'm also really intrigued by how the 'Cats are going to deal with Angel Delgado, and that game will be an interesting clash of play styles.

Ryan: February 17th at Xavier. Nova-Xavier is always a huge matchup and I've always wanted to visit a hostile environment like Xavier. J.P. Macura playing with his home crowd would be a tough matchup for Villanova, plus the possibility of seeing Bill Murray would be sweet.

Mike J.: April 2nd in San Antonio.