By Maureen Oberlin
The Villanova Wildcats, opening the season as the fourth-ranked team in the country, are the favorites to win the Big East Conference in large part because of their returning players.
Guard Collin Gillespie, entering his senior year, will play a major role on and off the court. Last season, Gillespie finished second on the team in scoring at 14.0 points per game and topped the squad by averaging 4.6 assists per game.
Another player returning for his senior year is forward Jermaine Samuels, expected to play an even bigger role this season after the Wildcats lost Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the NBA. Samuels finished fourth on the team in points per game (12.0) and second in rebounds per game (6.4).
Villanova has dominated the Big East Conference over the years, emerging as the champion in three of the last four Big East tournaments. The Wildcats were upset last season by the eventual champion Georgetown Hoyas 72-71 in the quarterfinals.
Villanova is the clear favorite to take home the Big East this season at -110.