Men’s basketball schedule gives ‘Cats national spotlight

David Cassilo

Following its run to the Final Four, the men’s basketball team has a considerable amount of hype entering the ’09-’10. Although that hype brings exposure in the form of at least 18 nationally televised games, it also brings a daunting schedule that will make the road to the postseason a difficult one.

“I think we have one of the most challenging schedules we’ve faced in recent years ahead of us,” said Head Coach Jay Wright. “The early portion of the schedule in November and December will test us and our Big East schedule, with three Big Mondays, includes some difficult travel.”

After an exhibition game against Kutztown at the Wachovia Center on Nov. 5, the season will officially begin at the Pavilion against Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 13.

The following game will open up Villanova’s Big Five schedule when they host Penn on Nov. 16. The rest of the Big Five games include home games versus LaSalle (Nov. 28) and Drexel (Dec. 2) and trips to St. Joseph’s (Dec. 9) and Temple (Dec. 13).

On Nov. 19, the Wildcats head south to the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off, a four-day tournament that will feature the team’s first nationally televised games of the season. They will open against George Mason and could face a number of talented teams including Dayton, Georgia Tech and Kansas State.

Villanova will also be participating in the BB&T Classic in Washington, D.C., when they take on Maryland on Dec. 6.

The Wildcats 18-game Big East schedule will open up in Marquette for the second year in a row, as they will take on the Golden Eagles on Jan. 2. The team’s first Big East home game will be played at the Pavilion on Jan. 6 against DePaul.

The team is slated to play five of their Big East home games at the Wachovia Center, the first of which is on Jan. 17, when the Wildcats will host Georgetown. This is the first of two times the teams will meet during the 25th anniversary of their NCAA title game in 1985.

The rest of Villanova’s Wachovia schedule includes Notre Dame (Jan. 27), Providence (Feb. 13), Connecticut (Feb. 15) and West Virginia (March 6).

The Wildcats rematch of their thrilling victory against Pittsburgh’s in last season’s Elite Eight will take place on the road on Feb. 21. It is one of 10 games that Villanova will play against NCAA tournament teams from last season.

Later that week, the team will take on South Florida on Feb. 24 at the Pavilion. This game is tentatively set for Senior Night, according to the media relations department.The team will also travel to Syracuse on Feb. 27, where itwill face the Orange in a game featured on ESPN’s College Gameday.

A week later the regular season will conclude at the Wachovia Center on March 6 against West Virginia.

The release of the schedule means one thing for the team’s head coach.

“Our players and coaches are always excited to see the schedule because it means that the season is right around the corner,” Wright said.