This wins the day: Next season, Villanova has the potential to play 10 games in and around the greater Philadelphia area. For all the dorky math turdburgers out that, that amounts to a solid 66.7 percent of the Wildcats' actual and potential games taking place in a town where football fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus. (And this doesn't even consider Villanova's game against Pennsylvania, which doesn't have a time or place, but will presumably exist somewhere on the planet on March 9, 2013.) Hell, if it weren't for the program's membership in the Big East Conference and the mandatory road trips that the Wildcats will make to Notre Dame, St. John's, and Georgetown, Villanova would be making one -- one! -- road trip this season: Just up north to Princeton.
That's an impressive level of don't-want-to-go. To the breakdown!
Lumps and Lumps
February 16: Lehigh; February 26: @ Drexel; March 5: @ Princeton; March 9: v. Penn; March 16: Maryland; March 30: Penn State
Despite the fact that Villanova thinks that frequent flyer miles are just a form of Communism, the Wildcats didn't skimp in their nonconference oppposition for 2013 (which may be the team's Pickett's Charge). Lehigh and Maryland are the obvious headliners here, what with one definitely appearing in everyone's top five to start the season and the other a stealthy contender with one of the best defenses in the country. The drop off in quality from those with top-billing isn't substantial though, which makes this schedule -- a slate in which Villanova will be trying to answer a lot of questions about itself a year after shattering into a thousand pieces in the home stretch -- especially difficult: Princeton and Penn State are likely to exist around and within the top-15 for, at least, the start of the season, and Pennsylvania and Drexel are quietly going about their business with the potential to chain whip some fools that aren't paying attention.
There just aren't any breaks in this schedule -- with the caveat that nobody quite understands what Delaware wants to be in 2013 given the team's bipolar approach to winning and losing over the last two seasons -- and that is dangerous for a team that is lighting cigars in the nitroglycerin factory.
Past is Deathlogue?
March 23: Syracuse; April 3: @ Georgetown; April 6: Rutgers; April 13: @ St. John's; April 20: @ Notre Dame; April 27: Providence
Here's some good news for Villanova: Even if the nonconference schedule puts the Wildcats through the woodchipper, the opportunity remains -- with the bulk of the program's conference games happening on the tail-end of the season -- to back into a potential NCAA Tournament position.
Here's some bad news for Villanova: The Wildcats were in that kind of win-and-we're-superstars! situation last season and it all fell apart.
In its last six games of the season in 2012, Villanova went 3-3 -- including a 15-11 loss to an absolutely toxic Providence team and a 15-6 drubbing at the hands of eventual Big East Tournament champion Syracuse -- removing themselves from any kind of postseason consideration and closing the book on what had been a maddeningly unconventional season. The closing schedule this year almost exactly mirrors the closing slate for Villanova in 2012, with the only differences being location and specific dates. I don't know how the Wildcats will deal with this -- it isn't easy, but this is also a different Wildcats team from a season ago -- but the echoes from 2012 are at least present in the construct of what will happen on the schedule.