The Big East may not be what we remember, but a look at the standings show it is a member of the old guard holding court over the new version. It is not Georgetown, Marquette or even new comer Creighton leading the way; it is Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats who lead the way.
Picked to finish fourth in the pre-season poll, Villanova currently sits at 9-0 and 10th in the country. What really got them on the map was the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament that saw them knock off then #2 Kansas and #23 Iowa on back-to-back nights en route to the title. In the semifinals sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono made only one shot from the field and it was a 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left to give the Wildcats the lead for good. The following night tourney MVP James Bell played 40 minutes and poured in 20 points to lead Villanova to an overtime victory.
The thing that has made the Wildcats successful, at least on the offensive end so far this season is that on any given night contributions could come from anywhere. It could be from Bell or junior Jayvaughn Pinkston who leads the team in scoring at nearly 18 a game. It could come from junior Darrun Hillard, sophomore Dylan Ennis or even freshmen Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins who each scored in double figures against Iowa. On the defensive end they currently rank 22nd in the country in field goal percentage defense holding teams to just 37.8% shooting and 12th in the country in rebounding at 43.3 a game.
The Wildcats finish up their non-conference slate with home game against Philly five foe LaSalle on Sunday, Rider on 12/21 before traveling to face former conference foe Syracuse on 12/28. Coach Wright is one of the most-respected and underrated coaches in the country in terms of how much he is able to get out of his team just ask Kansas and Iowa. Look for them to carry their hot start and that Big East toughness into the newest version of the conference.