We’ve spent most of the offseason knowing who the most (and least) challenging opponents on Villanova’s schedule would be this season. Now as preseason polls and rankings come out, we’re getting a better sense of the degree of difficulty this team has before them. Here is every team on Villanova’s 2019-2020 schedule by their KenPom and AP Poll rankings.
Offensive Efficiency: 14 | Defensive Efficiency: 9 | AP Poll: #10
That’s right, the Wildcats are higher in KenPom’s preseason rankings than any opponent they’ll face this season. While the projected record for Villanova is 21-8 (doesn’t include final two rounds of Myrtle Beach Invitational), the Wildcats are favored to win all but four games: at Ohio State, at Marquette, at Xavier, and at Seton Hall. Even then, Villanova is only projected to lose those games by 7 points... combined. This projection also has Villanova winning the Big East Regular Season Championship by one game with a record of 12-6. I’d say this is about the most optimistic ranking and outlook anyone could have on the season, but I wouldn’t start mistaking it for reality.
Offensive Efficiency: 16 | Defensive Efficiency: 16 | AP Poll: #3
It’s no surprise that Kansas tops the list of opponents, but their rankings are a bit lower than I expected. Kansas enters the season ranked #3 in the AP Poll , and there’s a real possibility that they could be ranked #1 or #2 when they come to Philadelphia to face the Wildcats. It will be Nova’s toughest test of the regular season, and a win could mean big things for this season’s team.
#11 Ohio State
Offensive Efficiency: 30 | Defensive Efficiency: 8 | AP Poll: #18
This is another example where I think last year’s numbers have too strong a pull on this year’s rankings. Ohio State, like Villanova, enters this season with a relatively young squad. Also like Villanova, they’re ranked Top 10 defensively. I really don’t think either team will live up to those rankings, especially when they face each other in the second week of the season. But if anything those rankings are representative of two long, athletic teams that will at the very least cause some problems on defense and make it difficult to score in the lane.
Offensive Efficiency: 22 | Defensive Efficiency: 17 | AP Poll: #16
The Wildcats would probably have to advance to the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship to have a shot at taking down Baylor, but it would certainly be quite the feather in the young team’s cap if they did. This is the first team in KenPom’s rankings in which I think all of these rankings are realistically aligned from the get go, which will make them a tough out in November.
Offensive Efficiency: 17 | Defensive Efficiency: 34 | AP Poll: #29
With due respect to Mr. Pomeroy, I just don’t see this ranking holding for the Golden Eagles this season. Yes, Markus Howard could end up competing for player of the year without the Hauser brothers around, but the team as a whole will take a step back this season. They’ll still be in contention for the NCAA Tournament, but I just don’t see them ranking in the Top 25.
Offensive Efficiency: 13 | Defensive Efficiency: 39 | AP Poll: #19
Between Villanova’s dominance of the conference and Seton Hall’s hype coming into the season, there hasn’t much talk about Xavier. But let’s not forget that for the last five years it’s been the Musketeers who have been the primary contender for the Wildcats’ crown. Xavier is most certainly worthy of this early season ranking, and I’d expect them to contend for the Big East Championship yet again.
#20 Seton Hall
Offensive Efficiency: 25 | Defensive Efficiency: 23 | AP Poll: #12
There are two schools of thought on Seton Hall this year. One is that their experience and additions of talented transfers and rookies will propel them into the best season the school has seen since its last trip to the Final Four. The other school of thought is that even with NPOY candidate Myles Powell, the team isn’t going to be that much improved from where they were last year. Granted, either way that makes them a contender in both the Big East and the NCAA Tournament, but only time will tell how much the Pirates have improved this season.
Offensive Efficiency: 38 | Defensive Efficiency: 31 | AP Poll: #48
There’s a distinct possibility that this ranking could be perceived as laughably low by the end of the year. Then again it could be a little high. There are still some question marks about how this team turns out this year, but between the track record of Ed Cooley and the talent on their roster, Providence could be dangerous this season. They’re certainly a dark horse contender for the Big East and a team no one will enjoy seeing on their path in the NCAA Tournament.
Offensive Efficiency: 31 | Defensive Efficiency: 40 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
This is a heck of a jump up from last year’s final ranking of #72 for the Bulldogs. I just don’t see it, and I don’t think Butler will be making it into the NCAA Tournament this year either. Not saying they won’t pull off an upset here and there, but they’re just not even a Top 50 team this season.
Offensive Efficiency: 12 | Defensive Efficiency: 77 | AP Poll: #40
If Providence was underrated, then consider Creighton doubly so. Outside of the Top 3 teams in the Big East, the Blue Jays are the most likely team to finish atop the conference. As usual, Creighton should be far better on offense than they are on defense, and these rankings do reflect that. That also puts them among the NCAA Tournament teams, and a hot shooting night from this team could likely take down anyone in March.
#53 Mississippi State
Offensive Efficiency: 51 | Defensive Efficiency: 54 | AP Poll: #35
The Bulldogs are Villanova’s probable second opponent in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, assuming both teams win their first game. Mississippi State was a tournament team last year, and like Villanova they’ll be down two starters including their leading scorer. Villanova will be the favorite to advance to the final, but this opponent won’t be a pushover.
Offensive Efficiency: 52 | Defensive Efficiency: 57 | AP Poll: #37
The Hoyas are in line to be a bubble team this season, but which side of that bubble they fall on is still unclear. They’ve got the talent to make a lot of noise this season, but it’s still unclear if they have the discipline and defense needed to be a real threat this season.
Offensive Efficiency: 70 | Defensive Efficiency: 69 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
We’re getting down into the teams that aren’t going to challenge the Wildcats too hard this season. As for the Huskies, they haven’t really been a problem for Villanova since their last meeting in the NCAA Tournament. I’d expect the trend of a Nova blowout to continue this season, and we’ll see how things turn around next year when UConn rejoins the Big East.
Offensive Efficiency: 95 | Defensive Efficiency: 60 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
The Blue Demons have a handful of talent, but they’ll likely continue to end up at the bottom of the conference. In addition, they’ll miss the NCAA Tournament but could have a shot at the NIT again.
Offensive Efficiency: 108 | Defensive Efficiency: 97 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
Aaron McKie has officially taken over at Temple, and the cupboard is far from bare as he completes the transition from Fran Dunphy’s final season. As has been the case for several years now, Temple will be Villanova’s biggest challenger (on paper) for the Big 5 title. They’ll have an advantage this year playing on their home court, but I’d expect the Wildcats start a new streak of undisputed titles this year.
#95 St. John’s
Offensive Efficiency: 106 | Defensive Efficiency: 98 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
It’s going to be a rebuilding year for the Johnnies, but they’re not without some firepower and the ability to pull an upset or two. While Chris Mullin will always be an important part of St. John’s and did an above average job recruiting, Mike Anderson is an upgrade at coach and should at least bring the Red Storm back into the middle of the Big East pack in years to come.
Offensive Efficiency: 124 | Defensive Efficiency: 108 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
Penn took down Villanova last year, and that wasn’t entirely a fluke. The Quakers are a good team (by Ivy League standards) and shouldn’t be overlooked this season. That said, everyone back from last season’s Nova team already has this one circled on the calendar.
#167 Middle Tennessee State
Offensive Efficiency: 170 | Defensive Efficiency: 175 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
The Blue Raiders are just barely in the Top Half of the KenPom rankings this season, but in college basketball that’s not really something to brag about. Middle Tennessee is the sacrificial lamb that’s been offered up to Villanova to start the Myrtle Beach Invitational, but that by no means is a reason to take them lightly. Not only do these early season tournaments have a tendency towards upsets (see Arizona and Purdue in 2017), but Nova’s opponent is no stranger to big tournament upsets.
#216 St. Joe’s
Offensive Efficiency: 229 | Defensive Efficiency: 193 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
How do you know Jay Wright is the dominant coach in the Big 5? His coaching tree is sprouting limbs at hated rivals. Billy Lange takes over for the Hawks in what will certainly be a down year after losing star players to the NBA Draft and the transfer portal.
#218 La Salle
Offensive Efficiency: 231 | Defensive Efficiency: 192 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
Ashley Howard is too good a coach and recruiter not to start turning things around with La Salle, but it’s still going to take some time. He should see some more improvement this year, but let’s not kid ourselves that he’s ready to take down Villanova. Who would be dumb enough to predict something like that?
Offensive Efficiency: 264 | Defensive Efficiency: 170 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
We’ve reached the “just happy to be here” portion of our list, and Ohio certainly fits that category. This is the warm-up game for the Myrtle Beach trip, and it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats dropping this one. Athleticism alone should carry them through this, but hopefully they can also use it to continue working on the offense and defense with such a young team.
Offensive Efficiency: 228 | Defensive Efficiency: 208 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
It’s the season opener, so Villanova should have no trouble getting up for this one. There won’t be much question about the outcome, but there will be plenty of questions about the game. Who are the starters? How deep will the rotation go? Will Gillespie still be wearing a mask? Can’t wait for the season to start.
Offensive Efficiency: 210 | Defensive Efficiency: 299 | AP Poll: Not Ranked
I’m still scratching my head as to why this one’s on the schedule. If it was a planned cupcake, why aren’t they playing at home and waiting until after January when Dylan Painter could get on the court? If it’s part of an event, why isn’t Nova playing a better opponent? My guess is maybe a lower end Power 5 school was supposed to participate (Rutgers maybe?) and then Delaware was the fill in. Neutral court December win is the best thing I can say about this game.