The Villanova University Wildcats have had an interesting college basketball program over the years, including winning two shocker national championships in 1985 and 2016. As far as public opinion was concerned, most pundits considered Nova to be a good basketball program, but not “great”. However, when 2018 would bring another national title, that’s when people would start to enter them into the discussion with other blue blood programs. (Duke, North Carolina, Ketucky, etc.)
Last season, the defending champions would be put to the test, being forced to recover from an extraordinarily slow start that saw them take losses to each Penn, Furman and an embarrassing 46-73 blowout loss to Michigan — challenge accepted. After the early season losses, Jay Wright and Co. would get things together brilliantly compiling 26 wins for the year and also grabbing a 13-5 record in the Big East to land a fifth conference regular season championship in six years. Could they make it six in seven?
According to some basketball betting sites, the Villanova Wildcats are indeed the favorites to take another Big East championship and atop the oddsboard at +150. Coming in second place, the Xavier Musketeers are tallied at +350, while the Creighton Bluejays take the No. 3 spot at +450. In the fourth position, the Providence Friars list at +600, while the Georgetown Hoyas round out the top five at +650 odds.
As far as the rest of the top 10 is concerned, the Marquette Golden Eagles are in sixth place at +750, while the Butler Bulldogs take seventh at +1400. The St. John’s Red Storm come in the No. 8 position at +2400, with the DePaul Blue Demons ending off the list in the ninth spot at +2900 odds. For some odd reason, Seton Hall wasn’t listed in the DraftKings Sportsbook with the Big East conference odds, but when they do make an appearance, you can be sure that they’ll be high on the list — count on them to be second, third or fourth. The online sportsbook MyBookie is one of the sites that shows Seton Hall in third place at +450.
In last season’s Big East, there was massive balance, parity and equalness across the entire conference. Villanova would take the regular season championship, but would only do so by a single game over Marquette. On top of that, you had a total of four schools pull in a .500 9-9 record, with St. John’s going 8-10 and the rest of the conference was a tie between three teams at 7-11 — pretty much the entire conference was the same.
What this means for the new campaign is that literally every school in the conference is going to feel like they have a chance to win the Big East, and what this does is provide us a load of profitability as far as betting options are concerned. In other words, no matter who you bet on to win the conference, you’re going to make a solid buck.
Villanova would take quite the hit over the offseason losing their two best offensive players in Eric Paschall and Phil Booth. Despite the tough losses, however, Jay Wright would work his magic and land a top five recruiting class that includes elite talent such as Bryan Antoine and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. And that should be even more evidence that Villanova is now officially a blue blood program, because the Wildcats don’t rebuild, they reload — just like Duke, just like Kentucky, like North Carolina and the rest of the blue bloods.
As far as Antoine and Robinson-Earl are concerned, both are projected to be picked in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft after being extremely prized on the recruiting trail. And then you have the rest of Nova’s depth that will be surrounding the two newcomers, including Sadiq Bey, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Rountree and Jermaine Samuels — all who played significant roles last season and should be quite improved here in the new campaign.
There’s no question about it, the Wildcats are definitely the top program in the Big East conference — both with talent and coaching. There’s no denying any of that, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other betting options.
Last season, the Marquette Golden Eagles would take a second place finish in the Big East conference, and would only place just a game behind the Villanova Wildcats. In the Big East Tournament, the Eagles would get all the way to the semifinals, but would fall just short of a championship appearance after getting beat by a late-second shot by Seton Hall. Now in the big dance in the NCAA Tournament, things would be disastrous for Marquette, suffering a blowout defeat to Murray State to be ousted in the first round. However, not all was bad for Marquette, as they would bring back Markus Howard for another year.
With the Big East though, the Golden Eagles can certainly take the conference, as they would show that last year and still have the talent to compete again this season. Keep an eye on Marquette, Villanova fans.
With that being said though, like the Wildcats, Marquette would take some hits over the offseason. They would suffer the transfers of the Hauser brothers who would average a double-double together for a combined 25 points-per-game and 13 rebounds-per-game. However, they do have a solid piece who can certainly contribute to replacing those numbers in Koby McEwen, and he’s a transfer himself out of Utah State, and a thoroughbred playmaker and can certainly make the difference in a game. They’ll certainly have the potency on offense with McEwen on the team, but they still need to figure out the rebounding end, especially if they want to take the Big East away from Villanova. If they fail to find a rebounder, that mission will cease to exist.
When current Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard was at the helm of the Iona college basketball program, it would take him at least a few years before he started bringing wins to the table. The same thing appears to be true with his tenure at Seton Hall. In his first five years with the Pirates, it would be consistent .500 ball with ups and downs all throughout. After that stretch, however, Willard and Seton Hall would put up four straight seasons where they would win at least 20 games, and have also made the NCAA Tournament all of those campaigns as well.
This very well may be Willard’s best squad at Seton Hall since taking the head coaching job. On top of that, he may also have the best player in the conference in Myles Powell. With the team as a whole, eight of their top players from last season are all returning, and they’ll also be able to add Ike Obiagu as well after his transfer from Florida State.
In recent history, it’s pretty much been nothing but domination from Villanova and the WIldcats winning Big East championship after Big East championship. But there has been one team who has been able to steal away the conference from Nova, at least once, and that was the Xavier Musketeers two seasons ago.
Last season in his first campaign as the head coach of Xavier, Travis Steele would get his Musketeers off to a dismal start with a 3-8 record. However, the end of the season would see Xavier with a load of building momentum, winning seven out of their last nine games to end things off and something that they’ll be able to carry into 2019-20. They also bring back Naji Marshall, who was not only their top scorer last season, but also their best rebounder. And not only that, but the Musketeers are also returning three other starting players from last year’s team.
Xavier also brings in a hefty recruiting class as well, actually ranked in the top 25, but should it come as a surprise? Travis Steele has a history of recruiting well. He would do so as an assistant coach with the Musketeers, and is now doing it again as Xavier’s head coach. Steele also has other talent to work with as well this season, including two graduate transfers that are sure to be effective in Jason Carter and Bryce Moore.
After struggling in the 2018-19 campaign, Providence head coach Ed Cooley would consider taking the Michigan Wolverines job in the offseason. And it’s a bit surprising that Michigan would even consider. (At least to me) Not only were there struggles last season, but the Friars would barely finish above .500. Finishing at 18-16, however, it would come after five straight 20-win seasons in his defense. As far as the new campaign is concerned and how successful Providence will be, that all depends on the performances of both Alpha Diallo and Luwane Pipkins. With Diallo, he’s the Friars’ best player on defense and he’ll also be their top scorer in terms of returning student-athletes. As far as Pipkins, he’s a transfer out of UMass and is very effective at scoring the ball.
The Georgetown Hoyas haven’t been to the big dance since the 2015 campaign, however, they would accomplish a winning season for the first time since that year. Last season, head coach Patrick Ewing and his Hoyas would put together a 19-win season. As far as the new campaign is concerned, you can certainly expect improvement. They might have lost their top scorer in Jessie Govan, but they do bring back most of their key players. And also consider this: They’re also bringing in Omer Yurtseven, a transfer out of NC State and a seven-foot big man who could make Georgetown terrifying this season.
Let’s be honest here, the Villanova Wildcats have became one of the best college basketball programs in the entire country. Head coach Jay Wright has taken the Nova program and turned it into a year in, year out contender for the national championship — and he has two rings at that, and in the past five years as well. They’ll be forced to replace their two seniors in Eric Paschall and Phil Booth, but Villanova is poised for yet another successful season despite this.
A few key pieces from 2018-19 will be returning this season, and they’ll also be bringing in a top five-ranked (No. 5) recruiting class as well. With the Wildcats’ talent being what it is and Jay Wright being at the helm of the program, they’re once again a preseason top 10 team With that being said, you can certainly expect the Villanova Wildcats to win the Big East championship again this season. Now I’m not saying it will be a blow away or anything, Nova will certainly get their fair share of opposition, but I would be a bit shocked if they didn’t win the conference. That would mean a little decline for the Wildcats, and that’s something that I just don’t see happening.
In their defense though, the Big East is expected to be very competitive this season, and probably the most competitive in terms of major conferences.
However, Villanova is certainly the preseason favorite in everybody’s 2019-20 preview. Seton Hall, Xavier, and a few other schools will have something to say about who the champion is this season, but the Wildcats should be the ones with the trophy in the end.
There have been some concerns put into place as far as how young Villanova is, but at the same time, this is a realm of basketball that embraces the “one-and-done” athlete. The Wildcats should be just fine, and on top of that, they’re massively talented all across the board. And have I already mentioned Jay Wright? He’s the best coach in the Big East and it’s not even close.
Villanova should win the conference championship once again, there’s no question about it.
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