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Predicting the future of four-loss Villanova Basketball

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There was a time, long ago, when the Wildcats dropped games before January.

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Villanova Mug Arizin Links

Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! Sorry about our absence yesterday, sometimes life gets in the way. But don’t worry, if you like links you’ve got a double-scoop today waiting for you. But first, lets address these losses.

Villanova is back on a two game losing streak for the second time this season. It’s the first time in 6 years that the Wildcats have lost four games before the new year, and it has a lot of fans asking questions. Some of them are existential, like “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!?!?” Others are a bit more specific, like questioning the starter’s minutes or why we can’t get Joe Cremo a decent shot. But the question I keep hearing the most is one we haven’t heard in a long time: Is Villanova going to miss the NCAA Tournament?

The simple answer is, not likely. This is still a talented team that is favored by KenPom.com to win 84% of their remaining games, including every game at home. But instead of trying to predict the future to answer this question, let’s look at the past.

Under Jay Wright Villanova has lost 4 games in November and December just three times before, making it a rare occurrence in his 18th season with the Wildcats. Of those three times, he’s only made the post season once. However, when you look a little closer, that has much more to do with the second half of the season than it does with the first.

2002-03 Season: 15-16 (8-8), Four Nov/Dec losses

In Wright’s second season, he had a very young core (freshman season for Foye/Ray/Sumpter/Fraiser) that he was trying to blend with some senior leaders. They dropped three early games to Top 50 KemPom teams, and one to a 130th ranked College of Charleston. The team would have some solid stretches, but when February rolled around the wheels fell off. Nova lost 9 of their last 12 Big East regular season games before being bounced in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Needless to say, that kind of back end performance was likely far more responsible for missing the tournament than a handful of early losses.

2011-12 Season: 13-19 (5-13), Six Nov/Dec losses

It’s almost not worth comparing Wright’s worst season with Villanova because of how different it already is. After winning their first four games over Monmouth, La Salle, Delaware, and Riverside, Nova one back-to-back games exactly one more time that entire season. I still laugh when someone tries to compare this year’s team to that one because it’s not even close. They lost to 276th ranked Santa Clara, this team is much better than that.

2012-13 Season: 20-14 (8-8), Four Nov/Dec losses

This team is probably the best comp to where Nova is now, and I still think this team’s better. You’ll remember this as the “Columbia” season that would eventually go on to inspire the 2016 National Championship. Ryan Arciacono was a freshman captain, and the team had to go through A LOT of growing pains. It was an inconsistent team that seemed to play to its competition, but in the end did just enough to make the tournament.

There’s two things this year’s team has going for it that those three teams didn’t. First, their losses aren’t that bad. Kansas and Michigan are both Top 5 in KenPom, Furman’s already risen nearly 50 spots and is still undefeated, and Penn looks like they could repeat as Ivy League champions. It doesn’t help to lose those four games, but if all those teams end up in the tournament it doesn’t look as bad for Nova.

The other thing Nova has in its back pocket is an easier Big East schedule. It’s a down year for the conference. While there are still a handful of resume building games like Marquette and (hopefully) St. John’s, these other games should be a little easier for a team that’s still coming together than they would have been in past seasons.

I still believe that Nova’s on track to make the tournament, and that their performance in the conference will have far more to do with whether they’re in or not. At the end of the day, we’re still going to have to wait and see how it all plays out, but I still think this team is heading to the tournament. What they do when they get there is anyone’s guess.

In other “news”, reactions from Nova’s loss to Kansas, Dylan Painter is off to Delaware, and Nova is back on the outside of the poll looking in. Enjoy!

Kansas beats Villanova

Villanova Basketball: Wildcats still make statement in loss to Kansas | Section 215
Despite the Wildcats losing to the Kansas Jayhawks, the Villanova basketball team still made a statement about competing with the best in the country.

No. 1 Kansas rides its familiar one-two punch to victory over Villanova | The Athletic
Lagerald Vick and Dedric Lawson combined for 57 of the Jayhawks’ 74 points as KU survived another scare.

Villanova takes Kansas down to the final seconds but loses, 74-71, to top-ranked Jayhawks | The Inquirer
The Wildcats went cold for a stretch of more than eight minutes late in the second half, then erupted for 13 points in the final minute but fell short. Phil Booth led the team with 29 points.

Jay Wright on Allen Fieldhouse: 'Hardest place I've ever played' | 247 Sports
The Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats, 74-71.

Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks edge Jay Wright, Villanova 74-71 | The Kansas City Star
No. 1-ranked Kansas downed No. 17-ranked Villanova 74-71 on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Lagerald Vick had 29 points and Dedric Lawson 28 for the KU Jayhawks.

AP Poll Rankings

College basketball rankings: North Carolina surges, Gonzaga drops in new AP Top 25 | NCAA.com
Let's break down the latest AP men's basketball poll, which was released Monday, Dec. 17.

College basketball rankings: New AP top 25 poll | SI.com
North Carolina's win over Gonzaga created some shifting in the top 10 of the latest college basketball AP top 25 ranking.

Painter to Delaware

Delaware gets basketball transfer Painter from NCAA champ Villanova | USA Today Network
Forward Dylan Painter seeks increased playing time in his move from basketball champs Villanova to the University of Delaware.

Basketball star Dylan Painter, who transferred from Villanova, lands at Delaware | pennlive.com
The former Hershey basketball star will finish his college career with the Blue Hens.

NBA Wildcats

Svi Mykhailiuk claps back at Josh Hart over Villanova game | 247 Sports
Svi Mykhailiuk wasn't about to let his teammate insult his alma mater.

Hut-hut-hike: Jim Boylen and Bulls players are trying to toughen up | Chicago Tribune
New Bulls coach Jim Boylen has made playing with toughness a primary requirement for playing time.

Class of 2019

NJ boys hoops: Ranney passes first test vs. Don Bosco Prep, more on horizon | app
With Florida commit Scottie Lewis and Villanova-bound Bryan Antoine in tow, the Ranney School is playing an ambitious schedule

Boys basketball: Dallas-area schools struggle in Saturday's games vs. top teams nationally in ARS National Hoopfest play | SportsDay
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a 6-10 Villanova signee, was his game's MVP with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

College Basketball

The FBI Scandal Hasn’t Changed College Basketball | The Ringer
2018 was supposed to be the year the sport was brought to its knees. There was no telling which program, player, or coach would be engulfed in the scandal next. But over a year later, it’s still business as usual in the NCAA.

Surprise: Perfect Furman hoping to end NCAA tourney drought | The Washington Post
Surprise: Perfect Furman one of college basketball’s biggest surprises, hoping to end a 38-year NCAA Tournament drought