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Villanova is Big East's team to beat again

Jay Wright has established a special program at Villanova.

Over the past 11 seasons, Wright's Wildcats have made it to the Big Dance 10 times. Villanova will make it 11 out of 12 this season.

This season's Villanova team is dangerous because of its perimeter play. This group has speed, ability to shoot the 3-pointer and interchangeable parts. On any given night, a different player could lead the team in scoring, providing trouble for opposing defenses. The blend of experience and youth should work well.

Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono are standouts with great experience. Both made more than 50 3-pointers last season.

There are great expectations for diaper dandy Jalen Brunson, who helped lead USA Basketball to the U-19 World Championship in Greece in July. Brunson is the son of former Temple star Rick Brunson.

Villanova also returns veteran big man Daniel Ochefu, who is capable on improving his nine points per game average of a season ago. He is a big factor on the defensive end, leading the team with 50 blocked shots last season.

Forward Kris Jenkins and guard Phil Booth should have bigger roles this season as well. Redshirt freshman Mikal Bridges may fly under the radar. The 6-foot-7 wing should contribute off the bench.

There is some talent missing from last season's team. Darrun Hilliard, the top scorer at 14 PPG, was selected in the NBA draft. JayVaughn Pinkston also finished his eligibility, and Dylan Ennis transferred to Oregon.

The man who runs the show is Wright. He was Rollie Massimino's assistant at 'Nova from 1987-92. He then went to UNLV as an assistant before becoming head coach at Hofstra. Wright returned to Villanova and has been in charge of the program for 14 seasons.

How good have the 'Cats been? Over the past two seasons, they have won 87 percent of their games (62-8). Unfortunately, losses in the NCAA tournament, to NC State last season and eventual-champions Connecticut two seasons ago have put a damper on great regular-season success.

Wright is an impressive 319-152 at Villanova. He should bolster those numbers even further this season. Villanova will be the team to beat in the Big East. Georgetown will be tougher, Marquette will be vastly improved.

The 'Cats will provide more excitement down in the City of Brotherly Love.