Are the Villanova Wildcats no longer an elite basketball team?

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

For the past five years, the Villanova Wildcats have been the class of college basketball, but it appears Jay Wright’s squad has taken a step back.

For the past five years, the Villanova Wildcats have been the class of college basketball. Five straight years of being a two-seed or above and two national championships. They have not lost more than five games since the 2012-13 season, something they are in jeopardy of losing this season.

Through 11 games, Villanova is 8-3, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But they are far from the team they were in year’s past. The Wildcats were blown out by Michigan at home, upset by Furman and dropped Tuesday night’s game to Penn.

Villanova’s loss to Penn was their first Big-Five loss in 25-games. Everything Villanova has done over the last five seasons has been nothing short of impressive. But it appears the defending National Champions have taken a major step back.

Following their 2018 championship, it was expected that both Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges would depart for the NBA, but Jay Wright did not expect Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman to leave as well.

One of Villanova’s strongest characteristics over the years has been their exemplary leadership from their upperclassmen. They are not like Duke or Kentucky who brings in a slew of five-star recruits on a yearly basis to only see them leave for the NBA after one year.

Villanova relies on their top-players to stay three or four years, and that is a big reason why they have been a powerhouse over the last five years. So, that is why losing DiVincenzo and Spellman earlier than expected hurt a lot.

With those two gone, Villanova has looked to Phil Booth and Eric Paschall to be those leaders. While both are solid players, none are the stars that Brunson and Bridges were. They are nice leaders, but can’t be looked at to carry a team.

Wright expected some of his younger players to contribute this season, but some of them have been disappointing, to say the least. Top recruit Jahvon Quinerly is one of those young guys that has failed to establish himself quite yet and is certainly not happy with his lack of playing time.

Going into the season, many expected Villanova to take a step back, but people didn’t know how hard the fall would be. It still seems unclear how the Wildcats will finish the season, but it is clear that it won’t be on the same level as in year’s past.

So after five year’s of being one of the most dominant programs in the nation, it begs to question whether Villanova has lost their elite status?

Through 11-games, the answer to that question appears to be yes. Villanova can still click and become a threat down the stretch, but they don’t have the talent on their roster right now to compete for a championship.

Hopefully, this is just a “rebuild” type of year for Villanova, and as their young players mature, they can return to where they once were as a powerhouse. Outside of Booth and Paschall, Villanova has only one other Junior, as the rest of the roster are either Freshmen or Sophomores.

Looking at a very young team whose older players are nothing spectacular, you can see why there has been a significant drop-off this season. Something like that should give Wildcats’ fans a cause for optimism.

So is Villanova no longer elite? They may have taken a step this season, but with Wright at the helm and the plethora of young talent on his roster, it should not be very long until the Wildcats return to the top of the college basketball world.

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Plus don’t forget, this is a team that just won two of the last three national championships. So, with that being said…

In Jay we trust.