#6 Villanova Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Villanova Wildcats
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #1 Big East
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Villanova earned a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season, but their trip ended early at the hands of #8 seed Wisconsin. Coach Jay Wright has turned this into a winning program and the Wildcats will be back competing for another Big East title. Once again there are some major holes to fill, but the pieces are there for this to be another extremely dangerous Villanova team by March. And with no seniors on the roster, this group will be even better in 2018-2019.
2016-17 Record: 32-4, 15-3
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jay Wright
Coach Record: 386-161 at Villanova, 508-245 overall
Who’s Out:
Josh Hart had a great career at Villanova and ended up being selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. During his senior season the 6-5 guard averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals. His production and leadership will be missed. Kris Jenkins was another double digit scorer, averaging 13.1 points and adding 4.1 rebounds during his senior season. The other departure is Darryl Reynolds. He averaged just 4.5 points per game, but was a solid rebounder and did earn 30 starts on the year.
Who’s In:
Omari Spellman will finally make his collegiate debut after being declared ineligible by the NCAA last year. The 6-9 forward was a five-star recruit and is expected to immediately provide a big time scoring threat in the paint. If he the opposition is forced to double team Spellman, the potent shooters on the perimeter will get plenty of open looks. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree could add more depth in the frontcourt, but the Wildcats do not really need much of it right now. Point guard Collin Gillespie and wing Jermaine Samuels are the other newcomers. Samuels is a major scoring threat and it will be difficult to keep him out of the regular rotation.
Who to Watch:
Despite the significant departures, Villanova has a wealth of proven players returning. It starts with Jalen Brunson, a junior who averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists in 2016-2017. Brunson is a great shooter who connected on 40.1 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He will continue to be a great floor leader and make everybody else around him better. And the talent around him is vast. Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo are some of the best wings in the country. Bridges averaged 9.8 points per game last season and should boost his production this year. He is also one of the best defenders in the country. Booth played in just three games last year due to a knee injury, but was the team’s sixth man during the national championship campaign in 2016. DiVincenzo will battle Booth for a starting job. The 6-5 sophomore is a superb talent who is ready to break onto the national scene. He had a pretty good freshman campaign, averaging 8.8 points per game and saved his best for the NCAA Tournament.
Final Projection:
On a team full of stars, Eric Paschall is the unsung hero. He is a tough 6-9 forward who will do all of the dirty work. He is a decent scorer who can stretch the defense, but will always work hard in the paint too. Sophomores Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter will provide much of the depth in the frontcourt after seeing limited playing time last season. Coach Wright has built a dominating program at Villanova and this team is just as talented as the rest. The competition in the Big East will be tough this year, but it will not take long for the new pieces to fill in around the proven playmakers and make this, yet again, the team to beat in the Big East.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jalen Brunson, Junior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Phil Booth, Junior, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Mikal Bridges, Junior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Eric Paschall, Junior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Omari Spellman, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.2 (82nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.7 (16, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.5 (8, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.9 (75, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.6 (68, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (84, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 79.0 (3, 1)
Rebound Margin: 3.7 (64, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.0 (132, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (33, 2)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#16 Mikal Bridges
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#46 Jermaine Samuels
#93 Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree
#159 Collin Gillespie