It is no mystery to college basketball fans that this is not the Villanova Wildcats that we have grown accustomed to over the years. After winning the National Championship last season, this year’s team has definitely taken a massive step back. That is to be expected when your team loses four players to the NBA: Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson, and Omari Spellman, of which Bridges and Brunson were Wooden Award candidates last year. They only had two returning starters in guard Phil Booth and forward Eric Paschall, and are relying heavily on sophomores Collin Gillespie and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree to handle a large portion of the team’s starter minutes after spending last season in a bench role.
Jay Wright and his Wildcats are currently the 17th-ranked team in the nation with an 8-3 record after being ranked 9th in the preseason. After winning their first two games over Morgan State and Quinnipiac, Nova dropped two straight to Michigan (73-46) and Furman (76-68). They picked it back up winning their next six over Canisius, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Temple, La Salle, and St. Joe’s. Looked like they were getting back on track after beating a top ten team in the Seminoles right? Think again. After this six-game winning streak, they lost to Penn 78-75, ending their 25 game win streak in the Big 5. Last season, Nova had four losses en route to the championship. They already have three losses and conference play hasn’t even started yet.
Seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth have been great so far for Nova averaging 14.5 and 15.8 points per game, respectively. Collin Gillespie is their only other player averaging over 10 PPG at 11.6. Last season, there were six different Wildcats averaging double-digits points. Outside of the two seniors, Jay Wright is relying heavily on underclassmen. Gillespie, Cosby-Roundtree, and Jermaine Samuels are all sophomores and Saddiq Bey and Cole Swider are two freshmen receiving minutes. The only other upperclassmen in the rotation is Joe Cremo, an Albany transfer, who plays 20.9 minutes per games and averages 6.9 PPG.
Left out of Jay Wright’s rotation is five-star recruit and 26th overall prospect out of high school, according to ESPN’s Top 100, is guard Jahvon Quinerly. The back-to-back winner of the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, McDonald All-American, and member of the “Jelly Fam,” he could definitely inject some skill and flash into this Nova rotation. I do not see a reason for him to see only 8.6 minutes per game.
Next up for Villanova is top-ranked Kansas tomorrow at noon. If the Wildcats play like they have been, the Jayhawks will give them their fourth loss of the season rather easily. Luckily for Nova, the Big East is still a weak conference and should have every opportunity to win the conference championship.
Featured Image: SB Nation
University of South Carolina ’21