There isn’t really a great way to start to an article like this other than writing something like: Villanova is a really good basketball team and has done some really impressive things over the last 4 1/2 seasons. Whether it’s from an individual or team standpoint, the dominance over that period has become so routine that it almost gets taken for granted.
So what better time to look at such stats than when a fan base is searching for any positive as it waits anxiously during a week-long break between games following the Butler loss? Stay positive and check out the numbers below.
1. Villanova spent more weeks than any other team as AP #1 in 2017. They also did this in 2016.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that reaching No. 1 was a big deal for Villanova an its fans. Fast forward to January of 2018, and this is the perfect example of a once lofty goal that has seemingly become old hat for this group. There’s a reason for that, as during 2017 Villanova spent a nation’s best seven weeks as No. 1 in the AP Poll. Duke was second at five weeks. (Side note: Baylor was No. 1 a year ago…college basketball is crazy!)
The Wildcats also spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 2016 — tops in the country. Kansas was second that year at five weeks.
2. Villanova is shooting 47.2% from 3-point range on non-Paschall shots.
This is the perfect example of playing the “what if” game. Eric Paschall has never been a great 3-point shooter. He shot 31.5 percent from deep as a freshman and 27.9 as a sophomore. But in his junior year, Paschall has fallen to a truly abysmal 7.4 percent, making just two of 27 shots from long-range all season. Still, though, Villanova is a Big East-best 41.5 percent from 3-point range.
One could look at this two ways. Eliminate Paschall’s attempts, and Villanova is shooting 47.2 percent from 3-point territory. Give Paschall a near 25 percent clip for the season (7-for-27), and the Wildcats are up to 42.8 percent. Either way, if Paschall can ever get more consistent from deep, one of Villanova’s biggest strengths may even be stronger.
3. No player on Villanova averages more than 1.9 TO per game
This is one of those stats that deserves a double take. For context, every other team in the top-5 of the national rankings has at least two players averaging more than two turnovers per game. And to drive the point home even further, Arizona State has two players that turn the ball over more than half as much as Villanova’s whole team.
I’m not sure what’s more impressive from an individual standpoint for the Wildcats: 1) Jalen Brunson, the team’s primary ball handler, has just 1.3 TO per game; 2) Omari Spellman, a freshman, has just 1.1 TO per game; or 3) Four starters are averaging under 1.5 TO per game.
4. Jay Wright has earned 27% of his career wins in the last 4 1/2 seasons.
Wright has been a head coach for 24 seasons. That pushes his career all the way back to 1994 when it began at Hofstra. Over that time, he’s amassed 521 wins — 142 of which have come since the start of the 2013 season. And this isn’t a coach who struggled early in his career. Wright went to 10 NCAA tournaments and a Final Four before this recent stretch of success.
5. Villanova hasn’t lost to DePaul in a decade.
Every Villanova fan has that moment when he or she is watching the team play DePaul and wonders: when was the last time we lost to this team? That would be Jan. 3, 2008. And while there have been a few close calls over the years (thank you, Corey Fisher), the Wildcats have dominated no conference foe quite like the Blue Demons.
So big deal, it’s DePaul. Everyone beats them. Well, not so fast. Since the Big East’s realignment, the perennial bottom feeder of the league has beaten every team EXCEPT Villanova.
When you add it all up, that’s 15 wins in a row against DePaul. The only other team that has failed to beat Villanova since the conference reconfigured is St. John’s.
6. Jalen Brunson has the highest FG% of any guard in the country averaging 18+ PPG.
We recently did a deep dive on Brunson’s whole shooting season from a Villanova comparison, and he also looks just as impressive when you look at the rest of the country. Brunson is shooting 59.5 percent from the field this season and averaging 18.9 ppg.
If anything, that means the Wildcats might even want Brunson taking more shots. For fun, if we give Brunson the same number of shots per game (18.3) as Oklahoma’s Trae Young, the nation’s leading scorer at 29.4 ppg, at his 59.5 percent clip Brunson would be averaging 29.8 ppg.
7. Villanova has never shot worse than 71.4 percent from the foul line under Wright.
As of Jan. 4, 196 of 351 teams sit below that number in Division I basketball. Two of those teams are in the Big East conference, and another one of them is No. 2 Duke. While Villanova has had flaws at times under Wright, one of them has never been free throw shooting.
8. Villanova has never lost when Phil Booth scores 12 or more points.
Of course everyone remember Booth’s heroic 20 points as the X-factor of the 2016 title game, but his role as a game-changer extends well beyond that contest. Since Booth arrived on campus, Villanova is 12-0 when he scores at least 12 points. This season, that’s nearly his scoring average (11.9 ppg), and the Wildcats are 8-0 when he hits that magical 12-point mark.
9. It’s been five seasons since Villanova lost in November.
This is one of the stats you probably know. After a brutal 2-3 mark in November of 2012, the Wildcats have yet to lose another contest during that month. That’s a perfect 33-0 mark during that stretch. In two of those five seasons, Villanova went into January without suffering its first loss.
10. The Wildcats haven’t lost back-to-back games since March 2013.
Another stat you probably know, but it doesn’t make the accomplishment any less impressive. Since losing to Louisville and North Carolina to end the 2013 season, Villanova has played 160 games without losing two consecutive contests. During that timespan, they have had 17 such opportunities but have passed each test.
Saturday will be the 18th of those opportunities, as the Wildcats hope to push the overall total to 161 games when they meet Marquette.