On Tuesday Villanova fans received some GREAT news about next year’s schedule. Not only will the Wildcats be participating in their 4th Gavitt Games, but they’ll be featured in one of the best match-ups in the series this year:
Sources: Matchups for the 2019 Gavitt Games are set.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 28, 2019
Villanova at Ohio State
Michigan State at Seton Hall
Creighton at Michigan
Purdue at Marquette
Providence at Northwestern
Penn State at Georgetown
Minnesota at Butler
DePaul at Iowa
In our previous analysis of Villanova’s 2020 Schedule, we said there were three things the administration needed to work on still: non-con road games, another premier opponent, and establish a new home-and-home for future seasons. The announcement that Villanova will play at Ohio State as part of the Gavitt Games checks off two of those three boxes.
First off, Ohio State is going to be very good next season. Sure they’re usually pretty good as a big name school, but next season should be their best since Chris Holtmann took over. Their big man down low, Kaleb Wesson, has pulled his name from the NBA draft and will be returning to help challenge Michigan State for a Big Ten Title. He’ll be joined by a pair of C.J.s in 5-Star point guard C.J. Jackson and Florida State transfer C.J. Walker, who sat out last season. With their roster pretty much set now, the Buckeyes project to be a preseason Top 10 team, as do the Wildcats. Given that the Gavitt Games usually fall in the second or third week of the season, it’s likely we could see two of college basketball’s best young teams go at it in November.
And it’s not just that it’s a premier game for Nova, it’s a road game too. Given the new importance of where a game is played when calculating NET and Quadrant scores for NCAA Tournament seeding, this is a win-win for the Wildcats. Playing true road games significantly improves the possible ceiling of a win as well as the floor of a loss. Given that Villanova only had two other true road games scheduled in the non-conference (St. Joe’s and Temple), this was a much needed addition for their road resume.
Lastly, let’s not forget that there’s a little bit of a revenge factor here for Jay Wright. While the players may be different, he hasn’t faced Chris Holtmann since his last season at Butler in 2017. If you remember, Holtmann won his last two games against Villanova by sweeping them in the regular season. While Villanova got its revenge the next year, Holtmann had already moved on to Ohio State. Very few coaches have active winning streaks against Wright, and I’m sure he’d love the chance to put an end to this one.
The Unknown Opponents
The Wildcats still have two unknown and three semi-unknown opponents on their schedule for 2020. The three semi-unknowns will be a part of the Myrtle Beach Invitational in late November. The opponents at the tournament will be out of the pool of Baylor, Coastal Carolina (host), Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ohio, Tulane, and Utah. Memphis was supposed to be a part of the tournament, but they differed to the following season.
In addition, Villanova will get a home game against a yet to be named opponent either directly preceding or following the tournament. This will likely be a lower tier opponent, so Villanova’s best chance at another ranked opponent from this field will be Baylor. Other schools that could crack the Top 25 sometime next season would be Mississippi State and Utah. If the Wildcats are lucky, those are the three teams they’ll bet to play in South Carolina. Anyone else doesn’t really scare you, especially not Tulane considering Villanova just nabbed their best player.
As for the final unknown opponent, my guess is this will be another “warm-up” game early in the season. Wright has a young team and they will have plenty of non-conference tests between Ohio State, Kansas, UConn, and the MBI. They need time to play together, learn the systems, and get through the growing pains. If they had gotten stuck with Northwestern or someone of that ilk in the Gavitt Games, then it’s a different story. But Ohio State is a big enough game that they can take another swing at Morgan State, or maybe schedule a January game against Delaware and their new star, Dylan Painter.
We’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the schedule plays out, but as of today here is the updated 2019-2020 schedule for Villanova Basketball.
Villanova Basketball’s 2019-2020 Schedule
|Hoops Mania||10/5/2019||Home (The Finn)||Season Kickoff Event|
|USC||10/18/2019||Galen Center (Los Angeles, CA)||Preseason Exhibition|
|Ohio State||11/13/2019||Away||Gavitt Games|
|Ohio University||11/16/2019||Home||Myrtle Beach Invitational|
|Middle Tennessee||11/21/2019||Neutral (Myrtle Beach, SC)||Myrtle Beach Invitational|
|Mississippi State / Tulane||11/22/2019||Neutral (Myrtle Beach, SC)||Myrtle Beach Invitational|
|Baylor/Utah/Ohio/Coastal Carolina||11/24/2019||Neutral (Myrtle Beach, SC)||Myrtle Beach Invitational|
|La Salle||12/1/2019||Home||Big 5|
|St. Joseph's||12/7/2019||Away (Hagan Arena)||Big 5|
|Delaware||12/14/2019||Neutral (Newark, NJ)||Never Forget Tribute Classic|
|Kansas||12/21/2019||Home (Wells Fargo Center)||Big East - Big 12 Challenge|
|Uconn||1/18/2020||Home (Wells Fargo Center)||Final meeting of 3 game series|
|Temple||2/16/2020||Away (Liacouras Center)||Big 5|
|Butler||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|Creighton||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|DePaul||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|Georgetown||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|Marquette||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|Providence||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|Seton Hall||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|St. John's||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|
|Xavier||Unknown||Home and Away||Big East|