It was a rough start for the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats, but it looks like their season is finally getting started.
Preseason rankings were their usual high on Villanova, with the AP Top 25 even giving them a first place vote, and college basketball bookmakers setting them as one of the favorites behind Duke. However, that high quickly vanished when the Wildcats took back-to-back losses to Michigan and an upstart Furman.
After bombing out of the Top 25, Nova looks to be back on track with an upset over #14 FSU to take home some early-season silverware in the AdvoCare Invitational. Is that the turning point for Villanova to shake off their early season rust and return to the top of the college basketball world?
Early Season Blues
The Villanova season got off the ground fine with comfortable wins over Morgan State and Quinnipiac.
Then the trouble began. It wasn’t the fact that Villanova lost to 18th ranked Michigan, it was the fact that they lost by 27 points, and couldn’t even crack 50. By the end of the first half, Villanova’s chances of winning, according to ESPN, were under 1%.
It was a demoralizing loss for Villanova. Michigan might have been extra driven to defeat Villanova after losing to them in the national title game last season, but the 27-point beat down was stunning.
Demoralized quickly turned to dismay when Villanova was upset by Furman just three days later. The Paladins outplayed Villanova in almost every aspect of the statsheet, which made the upset even more stunning.
The loss bombed Villanova directly out of the Top 25 and left them wondering where they’ll go from there. Admittedly, Furman might be the season’s underdog story, as they’ve already knocked off two of last year’s Final Four teams. But Villanova is still the reigning champion.
Return to the Top 25
Of course, Villanova wouldn’t be an annual championship contender if they couldn’t bounce back. The Wildcats took out some frustration by crushing Canisius in the opening game of the AdvoCare Invitational, and following it up with a 19 point romp over a decent Oklahoma State.
That brings up #14 FSU. Going into Sunday’s game, the Seminoles were undefeated, fresh off a tight win over #19 LSU, and -2.5 point favorites. What fans got was a tight game that saw Villanova lead most of the way through, but let FSU make a late run that nearly won them the game. The Wildcats would cling to their lead and make a pair of late free throws to clinch the upset victory.
The FSU win was enough to propel Villanova back into the Top 25. Monday’s Top 25 rankings saw Villanova at #23 in both the PA and Coaches Poll. They get the full week off before defending their ranking against La Salle, a game that Villanova should win easily.
While NCAA basketball title odds are hard to come by, odds will have lengthened on Villanova. The Wildcats will more than likely make the NCAA Tournament, but they've looked vulnerable this season, despite being reigning champions. Villanova can be found for anywhere between +800 to +2500 currently, which seems about right for them at this point in the season.