#11 Villanova Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Villanova Wildcats

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #11
Conference Rank: #1 Big East

Villanova Team Page#11 Villanova Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Villanova Basketball Tickets

The expectations were not that high for Villanova last season, but they were, arguably, the best team in the Big East. They ended up going 29-5 overall and 16-2 in conference play. Despite a couple bad losses to Creighton, the Wildcats won the regular season title in the Big East. Losing to seventh seeded Connecticut as a two seed was a tough way to end the campaign, but it turned out that Villanova would not be the last team to be upset by the Huskies. As good as this team was last year, they could be even better in 2014-2015.

2013-14 Record: 29-5, 16-2
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jay Wright
Coach Record: 285-149 at Villanova, 405-234 overall

Who’s Out:
Guard James Bell averaged 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals during his senior season. The big 6-6 guard knocked down 37.1 percent of his 229 three-point attempts, but he could also attack the basket with ease. It is a significant loss for the Wildcats, but the only other departure is reserve guard Tony Chennault, so there is not much this group needs to replace.

Who’s In:
However, both Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are capable of picking up some quality minutes and then some. Booth has amazing range on his jumper and he can handle the ball too. He will likely be best used as a secondary ball handler so his scoring punch can be better utilized. Bridges is a lanky 6-7 wing who plays well in transition. His length will also make him a valuable defensive asset as a freshman.

Who to Watch:
Upperclassmen Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu will head back to the starting lineup. Arcidiacono is a high energy point guard who dished out 3.5 assists per game and added 9.9 points. He is a great distributor and leader, but an improved jumper would go a long way. Last season he made just 59 of his 171 attempts from beyond the arc. Hilliard should emerge as the team’s new top scorer. He emerged as a great shooter last season, connecting on 41.4 percent of his attempts from long range. That great shooting, combined with his ability to attack the basket, makes Hilliard one of the most dangerous scorers in the Big East. Pinkston is the interior scoring threat and was right behind Hilliard and Bell with 14.1 points per game. On a team that often lacks an interior threat, having Pinkston is a massive bonus. Ochefu will do the dirty work in the paint. He is a great rebounder and a capable shot blocker. He showed flashes of potential in the scoring department, but really does not need to score much on this team.

Final Projection:
Josh Hart is expected to slide into Bell’s old spot in the starting five. As a freshman, Hart averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds off of the bench. He has not proven to be the most consistent shooter, but he is an athletic wing who should be able to boost his production significantly with that year of experience under his belt. Dylan Ennis will back up Arcidiacono at the point once again, while Kris Jenkins adds an interesting option at small forward or power forward. The 6-6, 240 pound sophomore likes to hang out on the perimeter, yet has the size to bang around in the paint. The Big East should not be as good at the top as last season, so this is Villanova’s conference race to lose. Nobody has as much experience and talent as this team and it would be quite a surprise if the Wildcats failed to finish on top of the Big East for a second straight year.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Ryan Arcidiacono, Junior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Josh Hart, Sophomore, Guard, 7.8 points per game
Darrun Hilliard, Senior, Guard, 14.3 points per game
JayVaughn Pinkston, Senior, Forward, 14.1 points per game
Daniel Ochefu, Junior, Forward, 5.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.0 (30th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.5 (78, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (97, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.5 (36, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (11, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (115, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.6 (114, 5)
Rebound Margin: 3.7 (56, 2)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (23, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (134, 6)

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#100 Phil Booth
#112 Mikal Bridges


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