Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts on Villanova's Big East Schedule

The Big East unveiled the composite conference schedule this afternoon, just after releasing the conference television schedule.

DateOpponentH/A DayTV
28-DecWest VirginiaAWed.
1-Jan Marquette A Sun ESPNU
5-Jan South Florida H Thur
8-JanDePaul H Sun
11-Jan Syracuse H Wed. ESPN2
14-Jan Cincinnati A Sat
18-Jan Seton Hall H Wed. ESPNU
21-Jan St. John's A Sat ESPNU
25-Jan Louisville A Wed. ESPN
28-Jan Marquette H Sat ESPN/ESPN2
5-Feb Pittsburgh A Sun ESPN
7-Feb Providence H Tues
15-Feb South Florida A Wed. ESPN/ESPN2
18-Feb Notre Dame H Sat ESPNU
20-Feb Connecticut H Mon ESPN
25-Feb Georgetown A Sat CBS
1-Mar Rutgers A Mon ESPN/ESPN2
3-Mar Cincinnati H Wed. ESPN/ESPN2

The Good...
1. The Wildcats play a bit more than half of their schedule before February 1. Given how unkind February has been the past two seasons, that might be a blessing. In particular Villanova plays only three games in the first two weeks of that month.
2. Taking Notre Dame and Connecticut at home at the end of February should be good news, especially if the 'Cats are playing confidently. I suspect the Wildcats and Irish will be competing for the same seed in the Big East Tournament (and hopefully a Dance bid). I should be good to have the home court advantage under those circumstances.
3. 12 of Villanova's 18 conference games will be carried by an ESPN outlet or by CBS.

The Bad...
1. The Wildcats have three "extended" road trips of two games each. They may be spaced "symmetrically", at the beginning, near the middle and at the end, of the conference season, but that is hardly compensation for getting three of them.
2. Drawing St. John's in late January could prove to be a case of bad timing. The Johnnies will put a very inexperienced squad on the court next season. By mid/late January the freshmen should be "getting it", and still be fresh enough to take down some big names. I would have rather seen the 'Cats draw them early (late December/early January) before they acclimate to Coach Lavin's system, or late (late February/early March) when Freshman Fatigue has set in.
3. President's Day with Connecticut again? This is becoming a tradition. Unfortunately for Villanova, Connecticut has consistently gotten the better of the 'Cats on that day.

The Ugly...
1.Villanova has not had a lot of success when they start the conference season on the road. This season is especially unhelpful given the opponents are West Virginia and Marquette, two teams that will most likely compete with Villanova for spots in the top half of the conference. The Wildcats could very well start the Big East season staring up from an 0-2 hole.
2. The second extended road trip takes Villanova to St. John's first, then Louisville. As offered earlier, the Johnnies is scheduled into the one spot in the season when Lavin's Young Guns will most likely be hot. This could turn into the second o'fer road trip of the season.
3. Playing a road game at Rutgers. Not my favorite venue, especially after the collapse in Piscataway last season. I would much rather have seen this game rotated "back home" to the Pavilion this season. Coming as the second game, after Georgetown, in the Wildcats' last extended road trip is even worse. Those are two very "losable" games. The timing and sequence could make this very bad...and possibly the third o'fer road trip of the season.

Traditionally the key to a 0.500 or better conference season starts at home, the home team has to dominate. If the team harbors any hope of a better than 0.500 record, then they have to accumulate a winning record on the road. And it should be better than 5-4. Three difficult two game road trips could put the 'Cats in an 0-6 hole. Ouch.

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