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Villanova Schedule Preview: Creighton, Xavier, Temple, Seton Hall

Looking to regroup, the ‘Cats will kick off their conference slate

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

We are back with our quick schedule preview before conference play kicks off on Friday in Omaha. As always, we will have full and in-depth previews for each opponent as the games approach but right now let’s get a bird’s eye view of what awaits.

Creighton Bluejays

Head Coach: Greg McDermott (12th season)

Previous Season Record: 22-9, 14-6 Big East — Lost to Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen

Key Players: Shereef Mitchell, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Alex O’Connell

Key Departures: Mitchell Ballock, Marcus Zegarowski, Denzel Mahoney

New Additions: Rati Andronikashvili (hurt last year), Modestas Kancleris (hurt last year), Ryan Hawkins (transfer from Northwest Missouri State), Arthur Kaluma, Trey Alexander, Mason Miller, Ryan Nembhard, John Christofilis

Date: Friday, December 17, 8:00 p.m. (Omaha, Nebraska)

Preview: Put simply, Creighton is reloading after losing basically the entirety of last year’s Sweet Sixteen squad. McDermott has brought in a stellar freshman class (ranked 5th in the country) and the Bluejays are presently coming off an impressive win against #24 BYU. Creighton is led by 6’7 senior forward Ryan Hawkins, who is averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Ryan Nembhard is off to fast start - averaging 13.1 points per game on 44% from deep.

NCAA Basketball: Brigham Young at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

#22 Xavier Musketeers

Head Coach: Travis Steele (4th season)

Previous Season Record: 13-8, 6-7 Big East

Key Players: Paul Scruggs, Nate Johnson, Zach Freemantle, Colby Jones, Dwon Odom

Key Departures: Jason Carter, Bryan Griffin

New Additions: Jack Nunge (transfer from Iowa), Jerome Hunter (transfer from Indiana), Cesare Edwards, Elijah Tucker

Date: Tuesday, December 21, 7:00 p.m. (Home)

Preview: Xavier fans were thrilled to learn that Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson would be returning for an extra year to pilot a team that was derailed by COVID and injuries last season. The Muskies have already toppled #19 Ohio State early in the season and have impressive wins over top-50 KenPom squads Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State. While Xavier boasts the #26 AdjO, it arguably leads with its defense, especially its defensive rebounding. Look for this game to be a battle on the boards...

Cincinnati v Xavier Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Temple Owls

Head Coach: Aaron McKie (3rd season)

Previous Season Record: 5-11, 4-10 AAC

Key Players: Damian Dunn, Khalif Battle, Jeremiah Williams, Jake Forrester

Key Departures: JP Moorman, De’Vondre Perry, Brendan Barry

New Additions: Sage Tolbert, Hysier Miller, Emmanuel Okpomo (transfer from Wake Forest)

Date: Wednesday, December 29, 9:00 p.m. (Home)

Preview: The Wildcats will wrap up their non-conference schedule with one final game against the Temple Owls. As was the case last year, the Owls presently have an anemic offense (164th) and rank #284 in effective FG%. They rank sub-225 in every shooting category, which is actually somewhat unbelievable. Villanova will not have much to gain in this one but after two tough games against Creighton and Xavier, this one might be coming at a good time...or it’s a trap game ahead of Villanova’s New Year’s Day showdown in Newark...

Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

#16 Seton Hall Pirates

Head Coach: Kevin Williard (12th season)

Previous Season Record: 14-13, 10-9 Big East

Key Players: Myles Cale, Jared Rhoden, Ike Obiagu, Tyrese Samuel, Bryce Aiken

Key Departures: Sandro Mamukelashvili, Shavar Reynolds

New Additions: Kadary Richmond (transfer from Syracuse), Alexis Yetna (transfer from South Florida), Jamir Harris (transfer from American)

Date: Saturday, January 1, 2:00 p.m. (Newark, New Jersey)

Preview: The Pirates faltered down the stretch last year - losing 5 of their last 6 games - en route to a disappointing 14-13 season. However, despite the loss of Mamu, the Pirates are off to a great start this season, toppling #4 Michigan in Ann Arbor and #7 Texas. The Pirates rank #26 in KenPom and boast the nation’s 13th highest effective FG% on defense, something that typically isn’t a calling card of Kevin Williard’s teams. The Pirates play quickly and aggressive at the rim. While Villanova has experience in true road games this season, this one will be a challenge.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 12 Rutgers at Seton Hall Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images