By Michael Bennett
Villanova is in the midst of the greatest multiseason run of shooting recorded by any major-conference team in almost a decade.
As ESPN.com has totled it, since 2005-06, just 7 percent of all major-conference teams have posted effective field goal percentages of 54 or better in league play.
The Wildcats have now done exactly that in each of the past three conference seasons. The only other team that matched that level of shooting prowess over a three-year period was Kansas, before, during and (most incredibly) after its national championship run in 2008.
The hero in this tale of uncanny accuracy has to be coach Jay Wright. When this run of immaculate shooting began, Villanova’s offense revolved around James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard.
None of those guys was still around when the Wildcats won the title last season, much less now.
Villanova is connecting on 59 percent of its 2s and 40 percent of its 3s. Josh Hart is the early leader for the Wooden Award, and Jalen Brunson’s development as a sophomore has helped offset Kris Jenkins’ surprisingly low rate of success thus far inside the arc.
ESPN.com predicts that its first loss will happen on Jan. 4 at Butler. Everyone’s pointing to the clash of the (likely) unbeatens coming up on New Year’s Eve, when Villanova travels to Creighton, and rightfully so. That will be a great game, But back-to-back road triumphs against teams of this caliber will be too much to ask, even for the defending national champions.