REPEAT AFTER ME: VILLANOVA SHOOTS FOR 2ND STRAIGHT NCAA TITLE!

By Michael Donovan

Villanova opens defense of its Big East title tonight at the Pavilion with a 6:30 game against DePaul.

Oh, there’s one other defense the Cats are making:

2016 NCAA championship.

Under Jay Wright, Villanova could become the first team to defend its national championship since Billy Donovan’s Florida Gatorsin 2005-07.

Kris Jenkins (above) and his Villanova mates will dine out off last year’s national title run for decades.

Entering the year, a repeat seemed possible but far from a guarantee. After losing Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, Jay Wright had to replace pivotal veterans. Then Omari Spellman (No. 18 in the 2016 class per ESPN.com) was declared ineligible for the 2016-17 season.

That’s why it’s so hard to win consecutive national titles in the one-and-done era. It’s difficult to build continuity and maintain an elite talent pool.

But Wright’s Villanova squad is No. 1 in the country right now. The Wildcats deserve that slot after winning six games thus far by 19 or more points.

The Big East will present stronger opposition. Creighton, Xavier and others will compete with Villanova, a squad with a road win over Purdue and a neutral-site victory over Notre Dame. Right now, however, the Wildcats resemble the squad that won the national crown in April, a team that might repeat the feat in Arizona in three months.

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