VILLANOVA’S REAL NCAA TITLE DEFENSE STARTS THURSDAY IN BIG EAST!

By Sarah Berkowitz

So, Villanova is 28-3 and begins defense of its national championship Thursday night in the Big East tournament in Manhattan.

Villanova lost Ryan Arcidiacono (graduation), Daniel Ochefu (graduation), and Phil Booth (injury) from last season’s national title rotation, added Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall into the mix, and has somehow put together an even better team than it had in 2015–16.

And they also have Josh Hart, who is pretty much the perfect college basketball player. Jalen Brunson is a scoring point guard with a quick first step not unlike Kyrie Irving, and also Kris Jenkins.

It feels like Villanova has been coasting through the regular season and is simply waiting for the real dance to begin. That’s a terrifying thought, considering that the Wildcats are 28–3 and ranked no. 2 in the AP poll.

What a difference a year makes. If Villanova hadn’t won the title last season, this group would be considered ripe for an upset, and not just because Jay Wright is a terrible head coach who chokes, or whatever it was we all were saying about him before last March.

The Wildcats’ rotation is basically six guys deep — although forward Darryl Reynolds (above) returned from a rib injury last Saturday — with one of those guys (Jenkins) being a sub-40 percent 3-point shooter who averages seven 3-point attempts per game and another (Mikal Bridges) being as likely to go oh-fer as he is to drop 20 points.

In a tournament in which one bad night can end a season, those flaws don’t exactly invoke confidence, even if we are all supposed to mindlessly trust the Wildcats since they’re the reigning national champs.

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