Oklahoma and Michigan State headline an exciting non-conference schedule for the Wildcats
On Thursday, Villanova announced their upcoming non-conference schedule for the 2022-23 season. The remainder of the schedule is due to be announced some time in September. Below, you will find a table detailing all the information we have right now about the opponents they will face. Let’s take a look into some of these tournaments and matchups starting with…
The Big 5
If you are from outside the city of Philadelphia and see The Big 5 listed under the ‘Tournament’ section of the table shown above, you may find yourself scrambling to your nearest search engine to look up more information. Not to worry, I got you covered. The Big 5 is an informal basketball association of local Philadelphia colleges that have been competing against each other since 1955 in a round robin style (unofficial) tournament. The Big 5 schools consist of Villanova, Pennsylvania, Temple, LaSalle and Saint Joseph’s. Villanova’s biggest rival in the Big 5 is Saint Joe’s, in fact, when the two programs meet each year the game is nicknamed ‘The Holy War’. Temple and Villanova are by far the two most accomplished schools in the Big 5, but over the course of the last decade or so it has just been Villanova dominance all around. I expect Villanova to sweep the Big 5 series again, although these games are not ones you want to miss. The physicality, emotion and overall vibe of these games is just so different and unique to the city that hosts them. I am getting excited just thinking about it.
On the topic of games you do not want to miss, I do not think you could comprise a better field than the one at the PK85 tournament. The teams include: Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Villanova, Michigan State, Purdue, West Virginia, Oregon, Oregon State, Portland, Portland State, Florida, Alabama and Iowa State. In addition to the already star-studded field, two familiar foes in UConn and Xavier will be in the mix as well, although it is highly unlikely they will face each other.
The PK85 is a tournament held in the hometown of Nike co-founder and chairman emeritus Phil Knight, and is a celebration of his 85th birthday. All we know right now are the dates, teams in the field, and the location of the tournament. All other information regarding matchups and brackets will come out soon. A bit of a shameless plug, but you can click here to find me on twitter and stay up to date with all news and information regarding this tournament and anything else regarding Villanova basketball.
The matchup I would like to see most in this field is a rematch of the 2016 National Championship against North Carolina. North Carolina is a bonafide top three team entering the season and I think an early season meeting with them would really help Kyle Neptune and the Wildcats in the long run. Also, I know Jay Wright and Roy Williams were great friends. It would make me happy to see them sitting courtside, chatting and laughing while watching the successors of their programs try to follow the blueprint of success that they left them. A man can dream right?
Gavitt Tipoff Games/Big East-Big 12 Battle/Never Forget Tribute Classic
These one game tournaments are always fun, unique, and a great learning experience for all of the teams involved. Let’s start with the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Villanova will head out to East Lansing to meet with the Spartans of Michigan State for only the fourth time in program history. Their last meeting was twenty seasons ago and Villanova holds the all time edge 2-1. Interestingly enough, there is a real scenario where Villanova could play Michigan State twice this season. Once confirmed in the Gavitt Games and a possible meeting in the PK85 tournament listed above. That would be an interesting schedule quirk although I doubt that happens. Anyways, this will be Villanova’s first appearance in the Gavitt Games since 2019 where they fell at the hands of an ugly early season loss to Ohio State. Michigan State finished last season 23-13 (11-9 Big Ten) and were bounced in the second round of the tournament by eventual final four attendee Duke.
Next up we have the Big East/Big 12 Battle and for the first time in three years we do NOT have Baylor scheduled on the non-conference slate. Instead, Oklahoma will head into the Wells Fargo Center to meet up with Villanova for the first time since 2016. That was a pretty good game wasn’t it NovaNation? The Wildcats, and I can’t put enough emphasis on this next part, DEMOLISHED the #2 seed Oklahoma Sooners in the 2016 Final Four en route to their second National Championship in school history. However, if you remember, earlier that season Oklahoma cruised past the Wildcats to victory in the Pearl Harbor Invitational. These are two completely different teams now and this meeting should make for a very good game. Last season, Oklahoma finished the year with a 19-16 (7-11 Big 12) record and were eliminated by Saint Bonaventure in the second round of the NIT.
And last but not least we have a meeting with former conference rival Boston College in the Prudential Center. This game may fly under the radar for a lot of people but this could be a sneaky good matchup. This is a matchup of two first and second year coaches in a neutral site. This is another game that on paper Villanova should cruise past Boston College no problem, and they probably will, but anything can happen in these early season game. It would be nice to stick it to Boston College one more time though.
We went over every game on the non-conference slate thus far besides Delaware State, which will be an awesome opportunity for them to come to The Finn and play a team of Villanova’s caliber. But as far a predictions go, I don’t have any. Boring, I know, but it is impossible to know what this team will look like without Jay Wright at the helm. I think talent alone could win us most of these games, but I don’t feel comfortable making any predictions on a team that I haven’t seen play yet. All I know is I can not wait for the ball to be tipped on November 7th.