When we last saw the Villanova Wildcats, they were cutting down the nets at the Alamodome in San Antonio. After embarrassing Kansas in the semifinals 95-79, they completely overwhelmed Michigan 79-62, for their second national championship in three years. Repeat that to yourself another time or two. This is not Duke or North Carolina or the aforementioned Jayhawks of Kansas we are talking about. It is a small (6,999 students) Catholic university from a conference that most observers left for dead when it’s larger football playing brethren escaped some years ago. Yet here they are, the newest member of college basketball’s blue bloods.
Since the dawn of the “new” Big East, Jay Wright’s team has been a Super Nova! Beginning with the 2013/14 season, the Wildcats have a 77-13 conference record. They have finished first in the conference regular-season schedule four of the five seasons, and won the post-season tournament three of the five years. Basically they have OWNED the Big East! With a young top-flight head coach, who has proven he can get high school talent to “The League”, AND two national championships on their resume, will their reign over the conference ever end?
Well, conventional wisdom was that Nova would lose Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson to the National Basketball Association this June. Bridges is a probable top 10 pick and though Brunson will probably slip into the second round, he had nothing left to prove in college. Losing two players of this pedigree is a blow to any program, however there was no panic along the Main Line because the roster still in place was loaded with experience and talent. At least that was the thought, until this happened:
And then this happened:
Villanova’s Omari Spellman announces he will remain in the NBA Draft. Jay Wright and the Wildcats lose 4 of top 6 guys.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 30, 2018
Prior to this season, very few of the top college basketball minds predicted that Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman would also leave early for the NBA. As a result of their decisions, VU’s makeup for the the 2018/19 campaign is drastically different. Coach Wright will have to go to battle without four of his top six players, which will not be easy. Might this finally be the crack in the door allowing other Big East schools to win the regular season title? Maybe, but the Wildcats will hardly be the Mildats I assure you.
Players like Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, and Jermaine Samuels are back, and this spring Joe Cremo, a high-scoring guard from the University of Albany has transferred in.
Photo: Chattanooga Times Free Press
On top of that, according to ESPN.com, Villanova has the 12th ranked recruiting class for 2018. Their three-man haul contains the #24 ranked player, point guard Jahvon Quinerly, the #32 ranked player in power forward, Cole Swider, and the #50 ranked prospect in small forward, Brandon Slater.
Photo: CBS Sports
So while they will be good again next year, not having misters Bridges, Brunson, DiVincenzo, and Spellman, will clearly knock Nova back a pace or two. This development is welcome news for the programs at Butler, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, and Marquette (just to name a few). The question now is, can any of them take advantage of it and break through?
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.
Feature photo: VU Hoops