What does a Final Four run plus a top-five recruiting class equal? High expectations. After being the biggest surprise to make it to Detroit this season, Villanova will not be sneaking up on anyone next year. Below are the rankings Villanova has been given in various polls:
ESPN- Andy Katz- No. 5
CBS- Gary Parrish- No. 4
Rivals.com- Staff- No. 8
The first two have Villanova as the top team in the Big East, while the third has Syracuse. However, this was before the somewhat comical decision by Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris to leave for the NBA.
As someone who follows Villanova day in and day out, I cannot help but be somewhat skeptical of being ranked this high to start. The people creating these rankings do not see Villanova enough to fully understand the impact the seniors had on this team – specifically Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson. Cunningham is such a versatile player, and because of that, he is very difficult to replace.
The recruiting class is what is really pushing these projections up. Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, Isaiah Armwood and Mouphtaou Yarou each have the potential to be four of the greatest players in Villanova history. However, ask UCLA guard Jrue Holliday and Louisville forward Terrence Jennings how different the high school game is from the college game. It is hard to step in and immediately excel.
What I expect is this. Jay Wright has never been one to load up the non-conference schedule, and this year should be no different. The first six weeks will be devoted to trying to find a rotation. In the process, Villanova will lose a few games it shouldn’t. This will not look like a top-five team early in the season, but by March, when everyone develops, and that rotation is set, there will be little to stop the Wildcats. It will take an entire season, but Villanova will be one of the top teams in the nation. In fact, don’t be surprised if it looks just like this past year.