‘Nova gets ready for showdown with Huskies

James Evans

Villanova will certainly not have to worry about the strength of its RPI this season. Earlier this week the Wildcats announced their 2003-04 schedule and join just three other universities in the country, Binghamton, Michigan State and Missouri, who play both 2003 NCAA finalists Syracuse and Kansas.

Last April the Orangemen went to the line to topple the Jayhawks 81-78 for the national championship, and less than year later the Wildcats will face both on ESPN.

‘Nova has only played Kansas once, a 1968 NIT quarterfinal in Madison Square Garden where the Jayhawks won 55-49. They will reunite at Kansas’ Allen Field House Jan. 2 to begin a home and home series.

The ‘Cats will travel up north to the daunting Carrier Dome Feb. 23, to wind down Big East conference play.

Villanova’s RPI strength does not just rest on two competitions, but with the Big East making a credible push to the nation’s top tier and the Philadelphia Big Five promising dramatic games, the ‘Cats have very few safety games.

‘Nova decided not to waste any time starting the season this year when it finally reached an agreement with Temple to schedule their Nov. 21 tip-off at 12:01 a.m., one minute after NCAA regulations state teams can hit the hardwood for regular season play. The Big Five game will be played at the Owls’ Liacouras Center.

The ‘Cats will then head west to play College of Redlands Nov. 22 at noon before continuing onward to the Maui Invitational where they will face off against Chaminade in the first round Nov. 24. ‘Nova will then take on either Hawaii or St. Clare in round two Nov. 25 with the finals on Nov. 26.

The ‘Cats then return to Philadelphia for the Big Five Classic in the Palestra Dec. 6 where they are scheduled to play LaSalle. ‘Nova makes the trip downtown again when it returns to Pennsylvania’s court on Dec. 9.

The ‘Cats then host Northeastern Dec. 12 at the Pavilion before welcoming back former Villanova assistant coach Joe Jones to the Main Line Dec. 22 as head coach of the visiting Columbia squad.

Taking on UNC-Greensboro Dec. 28 at the Pavilion, the team ends the 2003 campaign and prepares to welcome in the New Year in Kansas Jan. 2.

Returning from Bill Self’s new home, the ‘Cats return to a rivalry reunited last year when Memphis visits the Wachovia Center Jan. 6, a contest aired on ESPN2.

The Fighting Irish also make a visit to the Wachovia Center Jan. 10 to ignite Big East Conference play, with UConn also returning for a match-up in the newly renamed arena Feb. 28. Throughout the intense conference schedule the ‘Cats travel to Boston College, Providence, Miami, Georgetown, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, and the much talked about trip to Syracuse. Back on the Main Line ‘Nova defends its home court when St. John’s, Rutgers, West Virginia, Providence, Virginia Tech and Miami all come calling. The ‘Cats also host Big Five rival at the Pavilion Feb. 2 and are eager for redemption after last year’s televised blowout with ESPN2 on hand this time around. Villanova fans can expect at least six national televised games with the regional television times and dates announced at a later date.

If all goes as planned the season will segue into the Big East Tournament March 10-13 at Madison Square Garden and from there perhaps the bubble will stay afloat on the Main Line this time around.