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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Wildcats of Villanova

It’s a big one Wednesday night! Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown do battle with archrival Villanova, who just so happens to also be the number one team in the nation. As usual we’re able to extract all the insights we can about the Wildcats, this time with the helps of our friends over at VU Hoops, the number one source for all things Villanova basketball! Give them a follow on Twitter too while you’re at it.

How exciting is it to be the #1 team in the nation? Do you think this team has a chip on its shoulder because of it?

Honestly, it’s pretty cool/exciting to have random people see me with Nova gear on and say how great the team is. 10 years ago people were asking where Villanova was when I said I went there. You dream about your team being this good, but I’d be lying if I said I ever expected Villanova to be this consistently dominant. They are at such a disadvantage with resources to their Power 5 peers that every season this continues it becomes more like a wet dream that won’t end.

The chip on the shoulder thing comes more from the fact that there have been some March flameouts. I think Villanova is finally to the point where the national media (except for Graham Couch) is all-in on the Jay Wright Machine. The fuel then comes around in March when the chorus rises up and starts to question whether Villanova can get it done when it counts. We know they can, because they did, but some more consistency would be nice. Maybe another factor - or maybe just in my head - every class is essentially playing for the right to leave as the winningest class of all time.

Do you see any weaknesses for this year’s team? How does it compare to past squads?

I came into the year thinking that outside shooting was the biggest weakness and holy hell was I wrong about that. For some reason I’m still nervous that an off-shooting night could do this team in, but it hasn’t happened yet and the numbers speak for themselves. The national media will yell ‘depth’ at you because (1) the drop-off in raw talent from Villanova’s Top-6 to 7-8-9 is pretty stark and (2) 8-9 are out right now. Both should be back by mid-February though.

Defense is the area that I continue to be nervous about. Jay Wright usually has his teams hitting their stride around now - and Villanova has been better after a 3-week stretch that made us look like Duke on that end. There are some really good individual defenders on the team but the connectiveness that Wright preaches hasn’t been there just yet. If it doesn’t get there by March, that will hold this team back from their ceiling.

I feel like every year we talk about how many players Jay Wright is able to keep around for four years. Do you see anybody on this team changing that and leaving early for the NBA Draft?

Yeah, we’re in for an interesting offseason. Mikal Bridges (will graduate, potential lottery pick) will almost certainly forego his last year of eligibility. Jalen Brunson is set to graduate in 3 years too and those around the program consider him a lock to leave as well. There’s not much left he will have to prove at the college level, he’ll have his degree, and while he may not be a first-round pick he’ll get drafted and be in the league for a long time with his game.

Omari Spellman has cooled off, but another hot stretch at the right time and I could see him being tempted to bolt. Eric Paschall and Phil Booth will both have their degrees as well with 1 year of eligibility left. I expect both to return because they (1) probably aren’t NBA prospects right now and (2) they’ll be focal points on next year’s team, but you never know.

As much as it will suck to lose them, it will also be extremely nice for the coaching staff to be able to throw the double-bird at the negative recruiting against that.

Is the Georgetown game still one Nova fans look forward to?

Speaking for myself, absolutely. Speaking for the larger fanbase, I think so. This is still the game every year that my friends and I target to attend. Right with Villanova, they are the biggest brand in the Big East and we’re actually rooting for Ewing to turn this ship around. Villanova and Georgetown both being elite teams every year would be amazing. Although it is kind of fun kicking a man while he’s down.

Speaking of us, have you had the chance to watch any Hoyas games this year? Thoughts on the Ewing era?

I knew Ewing would be a good game coach - the reviews from the NBA were too unanimous. I’m still in wait-and-see mode on how he recruits but I think what he did with Govan is a huge selling point going forward. Give me 2-3 years before I render a verdict. But this year’s team looks way better than I thought it would and are playing their asses off. That’s a great sign going forward. I actually think for all the hoopla about Georgetown not going outside the Thompson coaching tree, this was a very good hire given the alternatives that the Hoyas could have realistically landed.

Now on to serious business. Is a cheesecake a cake or a pie?

I never understood the fetish for cheesecake. But it’s a cake because it has the word cake in the name. Who the hell thinks it is a pie? Have these people ever seen a pie?

Which sports city is more cursed: your current home of Atlanta or D.C.? And on a related note- got any NFL playoff predictions?

Fair warning, I am originally from the Tri-State area and thus do not know about curses. Although I do know about the Mets.

I’ve been in Atlanta for 3 years now though, and wow. It’s kind of funny? The only team I’ve adopted is ATL United and even though they had a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs, they look set up for long-term success. I still think D.C. is worse off at this point given how good the Nats and Caps have been recently.

When flying, how acceptable is it to stand or congregate near the gate before you are called to board?

As a Diamond on Delta, this is a subject near and dear to my heart (Delta has started rolling out queues for each boarding group, which is a gamechanger). I hate these people. There is a special place in Hell for them. You better be in the first boarding group if you are going to pull some shit like that. If you aren’t and I have to climb over you because you can’t hear my ‘pardon me’, you deserve every bit of pain coming your way when I step on your toes and whack you with my bag.

Final score prediction for Wednesday’s game?

I’m...a little nervous? If Villanova shows up this shouldn’t be a contest. And in recent years I think the rivalry component has helped avoid the look-ahead trap here. I expect a win but I think the Hoyas keep this one within arm’s length for much of the game. Villanova wins 82-68.