Happy Monday Nova Nation! With Easter weekend now behind us, the Arizin will be moving into off-season mode. That means a once weekly update with a few “as needed” articles if there’s any big news out there. And we’re going to kick things off with a favorite off-season topic of mine: What does next year’s schedule look like?
With UConn’s move into the Big East the conference schedule expanded to 20 games, leaving just 11 or 12 games available depending on the type of early season tournament Nova participates in. In 2013, they’ll be in the variety that allows for 12 games (more on that shortly). Throw in the four known Big 5 games, the final(?) season of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, and the Big East-Big 12 Battle, and the schedule starts to take shape.
But wait, you may be saying, doesn’t Villanova have some games coming their way for home and home series? Didn’t we play a ton of good teams on the road last year? Well yes and no. The only one of those games that was actually a home and home was UCLA, and the return is scheduled for the 2023-24 season. Baylor was part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle, and both Purdue and Tennessee were on a neutral as part of an early season tournament. So who will Villanova’s 12 opponents be? Let’s find out!
It broke just today that Villanova will face Boston College, another old Big East foe, on December 10th.
NEWS: Villanova will play Boston College in the 2022 Never Forget Tribute Classic on December 10th at the Prudential Center, according to multiple sources.https://t.co/M3kSeMWQQu— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 18, 2022
Villanova has become a regular participant in the Never Forget Tribute Classic, with 2022 marking their third appearance in the event. That’s the most by any school. Boston College isn’t the strongest of opponents, but it’s still a power conference school on the schedule.
The Big 5
The other matchups guaranteed in the non-conference are the Big 5 games against La Salle, Penn, St. Joe’s, and Temple. The only thing notable here is that Villanova has actually missed the Temple game for two consecutive seasons due to COVID. During that time, Villanova overtook the Owls for most Big 5 Championships. So assuming all of these games do get played next year, there’s a third of the non-conference schedule.
The Phil Knight Invitational
This will be Villanova’s first time participating in the Nike showcase event, and they’ll have three games against a pretty impressive field seven potential opponents:
Now for those of you super slueths out there wondering how UConn AND Villanova got put in this thing, there is a loophole I think was exploited to get around the “you can’t have two teams from the same conference in early season tournaments” rule. There is an exception made when conference realignment occurs. If the teams were invited prior to them switching conferences, you can have multiple teams from the same conference. Because I don’t see any AAC teams in the field, my guess is the teams were all invited back in 2020 to participate before UConn had joined the Big East. Then once it was officially announced, it still was in line with the rules. While I doubt they face off in the first round, it is now possible that Villanova and UConn could have three regular season matchups in 2022-23.
The Gavitt Tipoff Games
Villanova did not participate in the Gavitt games last season, and the games were cancelled in 2020. The original outline for the event stated that the Big East teams had to participate a minimum of six times each, and with Villanova only playing in four of these matchups so far it’s highly likely they’re tapped for their 5th game.
So let’s eliminate some potential opponents for the ‘Cats. Because they’re both in the Phil Knight Tournament, it’s unlikely Villanova gets a shot at playing Michigan State twice. Because of an imbalance of teams, anyone from the Big Ten could be in it this year, but there are six more teams other than MSU that should definitely participate because they haven’t hit their four game minimum:
- Penn State
Purdue is likely off the list as Villanova has already played them in the Gavitt Games, and Minnesota and Northwestern don’t really move the needle for me. Iowa could be a nice “return to Philadelphia” game for Fran McCaffery. The battle of Pennsylvania could also be fun with Penn State. But I think all Villanova fans would agree there’s one game we want more than any other on this list: Kevin Willard in his first season at Maryland. Not even a job change can keep him from having the Big East force him to play Villanova when he doesn’t want to!
Big East-Big 12 Battle
The only other “locked in” game Villanova has is with the Big 12, and even that’s not guaranteed. Every season one (now two with UConn) Big East team sits out. That said, it’s unlikely either side will want the biggest name in the Big East on the sidelines. In seasons past Villanova has faced off against Kansas, Texas, and Baylor, so it’s unlikely any of those teams will get paired up with the Wildcats again. Iowa State is in the PK Invitational with Nova, so they’re also an unlikely opponent. Lastly, because Villanova has played their last two games of this series in Texas they’ll likely get a home game. From that we can eliminate the Big 12 teams that have already played on the road twice: Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.
That leaves three teams for Villanova to face at home:
No offesne to the State schools, but TCU is by far the most intriguing matchup on this list. Not because of the school, but because of their head coach Jamie Dixon. You all may remember Dixon from his days at Pitt in the Big East, but a return to his old stomping grounds isn’t why this matchup would be big for Villanova. Dixon has the longest active winning streak over Jay Wright, beating him in their last seven matchups. That would be a streak worth putting to bed for good.
The Unknown Games
Assuming Villanova plays in both the Gavitt Tipoff Games and the Big East-Big 12 Battle, that takes care of ten of their possible twelve non-conference games. So what does Villanova do with their remaining two games? I’d all but lock both of them in for mid-major opponents early in the season as Villanova has a lot of question marks on the roster and big shoes left to fill. But I wouldn’t rule out a big home-and-home announcement either. Let’s look at some options.
First off, for the mid-major games I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a familiar face on the opposing team’s sidelines. Jay has often said he doesn’t like playing against his former staff, but sometimes playing against Villanova can be a huge boost for a coach in his first or second year on the job so Wright obliges. I would certainly not be surprised if Kyle Neptune at Fordham or Pat Chambers at Florida Gulf Coast got an invite to bring their teams to the Main Line for a game.
Outside of that, Villanova and Jay Wright have a ton of connections throughout the college basketball world, so it could be anybody. Likely it’s someone local to the northeast for travel purposes, but it could be anyone.
The same could be said for a home and home with a bigger name school. Likely you’re looking at a team that Jay feels is at the same spot as him this year, younger, developing, but still good. Virginia pops to mind first and foremost of the teams that I’d love to see Villanova schedule a home and home with, but it really could be a ton of teams.
More about the 2023 and future schedules should come out in the next 2 months or so, so check in to get all the details as the schedule continues to take shape.
In other news...
Villanova Men’s Basketball
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Rauch Rewrites Villanova Record Book as Wildcats Down Creighton, 9-1 | Villanova University
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