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Villanova Basketball Ranks 8th in Preseason KenPom Poll

All the reasons Villanova is (and isn’t) deserving of their Top 10 ranking.

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! It’s everybody’s favorite time of year again, the return of college basketball rankings! Yes, everyone’s had their “Way-Too-Early Top 25’s” out since April. But arguably the two most talked about preseason polls are just now coming out. Later today the AP Poll will announce it’s official Preseason Top 25 for 2019-20, and yesterday released their preseason rankings.

As you can see, Villanova enters the season ranked #8 in the country, and that’s a day after losing to USC (#48 in the preseason poll) on the road. So how is Villanova ranked so high, and do they deserve that ranking? Let’s break down both sides of the argument.

First off, I’m admittedly a little bit surprised that Villanova is ranked this high in this particular poll. Not because I don’t think they’re good enough, but because KenPom’s preseason rankings (by his own admission) incorporate previous year’s performance until about January. It’s true, due to the lack of data and sample size in the new season, a non-insignificant amount of the ranking calculation is based on how the team performed last season. So KenPom must think pretty highly of this year’s Villanova team given that last year’s team ranked 30th to end the season.

Well, that’s only partially true. It’s not just the previous year’s team as a whole that the new rankings draw from, but rather the returning players from that team. Of the six Wildcats that KenPom categorized as “Major Contributors”, “Significant Contributors”, or “Role Players”, Villanova lost the top three in Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Jahvon Quinerly. So a lot of the previous year’s mix is actually replaced by estimates for sophomores with limited stats and rookies with no college experience. Because Villanova’s first and second year players were so highly touted, they’re getting a significant boost which is helping these early rankings.

But as for the efficiency stats that the rankings are based on, I think it’s going to be difficult for Villanova to live up to them. Especially early on. Forget the USC game for now becuase I don’t think anyone would seriously consider an exhibition road game in which the team was missing their entire starting back court a fair assessment of their abilities. This team’s strength, like previous seasons, will be its offense. With the return of Collin Gillespie and the addition of Bryan Antoine, along with Saddiq Bey, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and better shooting nights from Jermaine Samuels and Cole Swider, Villanova can live up to the Top 15 offense that KenPom is predicting.

My real concern is the Top 10 defense. Yes, the defense looked better than I anticipated last week which is a good sign, but it didn’t look Top 10 good. On top of that, the players they’re adding to this rotation are Gillespie (not bad, but defense not his calling card) and Antoine (has yet to even practice in Jay Wright’s system). Yes, Villanova will be long and athletic which will help. Yes, their best case scenario is to finish the year as a Top 10 defense if everything goes right. But it’s surely going to take a dip below that ranking early in the season, and may not even get back into the Top 25 until the Spring, if at all.

But hey, the season hasn’t even started yet, the team DID look good despite the loss on Friday, and I consider myself to have a “glass half full” attitude. So I’ll end by saying I do think Villanova can be a Top 10 KenPom team by the end of the season. Just don’t go expecting it through non-conference play.

In other news, plenty of coverage from last week’s exhibition with USC, CBS thinks Villanova has a realistic shot at competing for a Championship, and Josh Hart wants to make an All-NBA Defensive team. Enjoy!

Villanova Basketball

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Villanova Basketball: Impact of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl for 2019-20 | Busting Brackets
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The 2019-20 KenPom Preseason Rankings Are Out! | Anonymous Eagle
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Villanova at USC

Villanova loses to Southern California, 72-61, in exhibition basketball game | The Inquirer
The Wildcats, who got 20 points and nine rebounds from freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, shot just 37.3 percent and were outrebounded.

3-Pointer: USC hoops beats top 10 Villanova in exhibition |
Three takeaways from USC's 72-61 win over Villanova in a preseason exhibition that felt more like a physical in-conference battle.

Surge over Final 10 Minutes Carries USC Past Wildcats 72-61 | Villanova University Athletics
USC broke open a close game over the final mintues Friday night in Los Angeles.

Onyeka Okongwu and Isaiah Mobley push USC to exhibition win over Villanova | LA Times
USC broke open a close game over the final mintues Friday night in Los Angeles.

Video Highlights: Daniel Utomi, Onyeka Okongwu each score 15 to lead USC over Villanova in exhibition contest | Yahoo! Sports
Redshirt senior Daniel Utomi and freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu each score 15 to help lift USC men’s basketball over Villanova in Friday night’s exhibition game in Los Angeles. Download the Pac-12 Now app today and set alerts for USC men’s basketball to make sure you never miss a moment of the action.

Villanova Basketball Recruiting

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Duke Basketball hosted some prospects for their Countdown to Craziness event. Which of the uncommitted players are most likely to select the Blue Devils?

Big East

Big East basketball: Villanova, Seton Hall lead rankings | Sports Illustrated
After a down year, the Big East looks primed to rebound in the 2019-20 college basketball season.

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NBA Wildcats

Pelicans 2019 preseason profile: Josh Hart | New Orleans Pelicans
In an era of “one-and-done” players who stop by college basketball for a single season before heading to the pros, Josh Hart was a rare case when he was picked 30th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. Hart played four seasons at Villanova University, making him almost ancient compared to the other draftees.

Rookie Eric Paschall on learning from Curry and Green |
Golden State Warriors rookie Eric Paschall talks about learning from stars such as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. He also talked about how his four years at Villanova prepared him

Bucks Film Room: Donte DiVincenzo dishing dimes, Robin Lopez making an impact, defending the pick-and-pop | The Athletic
How were the Bucks perfect in the preseason? Here's a look at some of the things they did well on the floor.

Takeaways from Warriors win over Lakers in preseason finale | Mercury News
Golden State Warriors takeaways: On identity and defense, starting small forward Glenn Robinson III and Eric Paschall's maturity in win over Los Angeles Lakers

Villanova Football

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NFL Wildcats

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Villanova Athletics

Josh Phillips Leads Strong Men’s Cross Country Performance at Pre-National Invitational | Villanova University Athletics
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.—In a field of teams that featured 10 nationally-ranked squads, including three of the top five teams in the latest poll, Villanova did not miss

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Smith, Olivere and Campbell Lead Women’s Cross Country with Strong Performances in Wisconsin | Villanova University Athletics
MADISON, Wis.—Freshman Maggie Smith (Halifax, N.S.) was the Wildcats top finisher for the second straight race and Villanova came in 22nd in a loaded field of teams

Villanova Adjacent

Villanova grad honored as 1 of 16 Student Academy Award winners |
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College Basketball

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