After three years of qualifying for the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament, Villanova has been told by critics that they will end this streak. Despite some negative feedback from fans, the Wildcats have not thrown in the towel just yet on the 2011-12 season. In fact, the team has vastly improved since its disheartening losses against St. Louis, Santa Clara and St. Joes.
Nova demonstrated in their recent victory against Seton Hall that they have a developing offense and a sturdy defense. Though inconsistent at times, the team demonstrated against the Pirates that when they control the offensive tempo of the game and play "simple" basketball, they are a complete team that will be successful in the years to come. Furthermore, the Cats passed, drove to the lane, and rebounded with an extreme amount of passion and energy. I believe that this resulted from the hostile environment and highly motivated crowd in the student section in which the team fed off the Nova Nation's excitement. This seems to stand true as Nova is now 8-2 at home.
On the other other hand, the "Mainline Monsters" have struggled on the road this year with a record of 1-5. Tomorrow night, on ESPN, they take on #25 Louisville who is currently 15-5. The keys to this game are straight forward: protect the ball, crash the boards, and distribute the scoring. If Nova can effectively carry out these tasks (primarily limiting the amount of turnovers) then they have a chance to steal a big upset on the road.
Despite the outcome of this match up , the #10 Marquette Golden Eagles will face an extremely wild and upset minded crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. This game has been talked about by students all week because after losing by 4 to Marquette over winter break, the Nova Nation and Jay Wright's team want another stab at bringing down the Eagles. You talk about a tough environment to play in? Look no further than in downtown Philly.
Both Rutgers and Pitt are currently 11-9, USF is 12-9 and Providence is 12-8. Villanova gets the opportunity to play each of these teams throughout the remainder of the season. Standing at 10-10, I think we have a great shot at getting revenge on USF and Rutgers (from last year's loss) and ultimately could pull out a win against a struggling Pitt Panther squad. This would place Nova in the middle of the pack of the Big East. With a possible win Saturday or at home against Uconn (UPSET ALERT!!), Villanova will prove to the critics and their "fair weather fans" that the Wildcats may be rebuilding, but will never be declawed of their passion for excellence.