The No. 1 Syracuse Orange travel to Philadelphia to take the Artists Formerly Known As The Villanova Wildcats tonight. Before that happens, we need to learn things. What's going on with Villanova? Is it all just a rouse to lull us into a false sense of security? Will they miss us when we're gone?
I went to the source, Chris over at The Nova Blog, to find out...
Your guess is as good as mine. The complete lack of a single senior (and no, Mo Sutton does not count) is obviously a killer and the junior class has fallen way short of expectations, with a gold star next to Dominic Cheek in that category. If you've watched most of this season like I have, you'll notice that we're also just a terrible team shooting the ball. In recent years we've had Corey Stokes to stretch defenses and this year we have absolutely nobody. It's hard to win when defenses don't respect you from the outside.
We're coming off a 57% shooting night against DePaul, and to nobody's surprise we destroyed them by 15+. So when we're shooting well, we're going to win because our defense is actually pretty good and we're a good FT shooting team who draws a lot of fouls.
Can Jay Wright get these Cats back on the track or are we talking about a non-postseason season here? When was the last time that happened?
Sadly, I think we're looking at a possible sub-.500 season. I don't remember the last time we weren't in the NCAA Tournament, much less the postseason at all, and I don't want to remember (Ed. Note: 2002-03). Jay Wright's in-game coaching (he's JUST figuring out that shooting 25 3's a game isn't good for this team) has been downright awful this season. You can shoot your way out of a slump. Except we're not in a slump. We're just not good at shooting.
Villanova is going to need to pick up a few solid wins if they are getting into the NIT. I think it's possible, but extremely unlikely. I think we're staring down the barrel of a CBI bid. Is that even the name of that crap tournament anymore? :(
We packed the Dome for 35K+ the last two times you guys visited. I assume you'll be doing the same? If not, how rowdy will Wells Fargo get?
This is our first "big" game of the season, and I have no idea what to expect. We consider ya'll one of our biggest rivals and in recent years it's been a sellout at The Well. But we legitimately suck this year, the fanbase is depressed/angry about it, and there's just no precedent for what to expect.
No idea how many 'Cuse fans will make the trip (I'd expect a lot since you're No. 1) so I'd conservatively say somewhere between 15-17K for the game. A sellout would be a surprise, though if there's one game this year where it's possible, it's definitely this one. Our students are finally back from winter break, so it should be pretty loud in there, especially if we can hang around in the game.
Maalik Wayns concerns me but is there another Wildcat who could sneak up on the Orange and hit nine three-pointers?
James Bell was our best shooter earlier in the year, but he's apparently contracted some rare disease where he doesn't feel like playing anymore, and he's been a ghost in recent weeks. Freshman Darrun Hilliard is a guy who could be a zone-buster for us. When he's been left open, he's been pretty lethal from deep.
But seriously, we're awful from back there. Like, the worst shooting team you'll see all season. I wish I was kidding.
What does the future hold for Nova? Is this just an aberration?
I'm 90% sure this is an abberation. I think Jay Wright thought this junior class was ready to take the next step, and they obviously weren't. The only good thing about this season is that I don't see any way how Maalik Wayns or Mouphtaou Yarou bolt early for the NBA. The entire team should be back, and we're bringing in 2 very good recruits in Ryan Arcidiacono (our first true PG since Kyle Lowry IMO) and big-man Daniel Ochefu, who along with Yarou, Markus Kennedy (who's been fantastic) and JayVaughn Pinkston should give us some serious firepower up front.
And we're still in the hunt for Amile Jefferson, who's the kind of player that can make a serious impact as a freshman.
The Big East exodus affects Villanova in an interesting way. You lose your in-state rival. You lose us to the North and you love WVU to the South. How bummed are you guys about the three and who is the most important rival to keep on the schedule?
Oliver Luck can go to Hell, and I don't say that lightly. It's no secret he was one of the chief cry-babies in blocking Villanova from joining the Big East in football. Have fun in the Big 12 Ollie. Won't miss ya.
Syracuse and Pitt are brutal to lose. Syracuse-Villanova games have been massive for both schools in recent years, and I think the two schools need to do everything in their power to keep that game on the schedule - and hopefully after the new year in the middle of the conference schedule. It'd be a nice break from the conference and in most years should be a high-profile game that should generate a ton of interest.
Pitt is tough to lose as well because it's a budding in-state rivalry. I'd love to replace some of our OOC fluff with them - but I think we're probably going to move in the direction of getting Penn State on as a yearly in-state rival so long as Pat Chambers (ex-'Nova assistant) is at the school. But I'd obviously love to keep Pitt as well. There's a lot of hate in our series (Scottie Reynolds, bitches) , and that's always good.