For the fourth year in a row, Villanova was picked to win the Big East in the league's preseason coaches' poll.
The Wildcats received eight of the 10 possible first-place votes in the poll, which was released on Wednesday and doesn't allow coaches to vote for their own teams. Seton Hall and Xavier received the other two first-place votes.
Villanova finished the 2016-2017 season with a 15-3 record in the Big East, good for first place in the conference, and capped it off with the Big East tournament crown.
The Wildcats finished last season with a 32-4 record overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The team returns two starters from last season, including forward Mikal Bridges, who was picked for the All-Big East second team, and point guard Jalen Brunson, who was selected as the 2017-2018 Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Brunson's averages of 14.7 points and 4.1 assists led him to an All-Big East first team selection in 2016-2017.
Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo, who averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on his way to making the Big East all-freshman team, is another returning player that will play a big factor for 'Nova. The Wildcats also add freshman forward Omari Spellman to the mix after he redshirted last season. Spellman was picked in the coaches' poll as the preseason Freshman of the Year.
Jay Wright's squad tips off the 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 against Columbia.
Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.
UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points.
Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.
What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.
Temple travels to Army.
UConn hosts Tulsa.
Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday
Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.
Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.
Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.
Penn hosts Yale.
Columbia is at Dartmouth.
Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
6 p.m. Saturday
Last time out
Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.
James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.
James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.
James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.
Jay Wright will recieve the John R. Wooden Award's "Legends of Coaching" honor in 2018. The award goes to coaches who personify legendary coach John Wooden's standards of coaching success and personal integrity.
Wright will be honored on April 6 at the College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles.
Wright has 23 years of coaching under his belt with his last 16 coming at Villanova. In his last 13 seasons on the Main Line, the Wildcats have reached the NCAA Tournament 12 times, including a national championship in 2016 with a thrilling 77-74 victory over North Carolina.
Wright and his squad begin the 2017-18 season Nov. 10 against Columbia at the Wells Fargo Center.