While Villanova has rolled along and Drexel has kept at least at water level, the rest of the City 6 teams have struggled mightily in league play, some surprisingly, others expectedly. By now, the local narrative has been established.

It’s always worth looking at the ways Villanova has gotten it done. This week, we’ve called in a guest analytical expert, Frank Dehel. We’ll also mention one big reason Penn hasn’t been the Penn we expected to see this season. Among other City 6 observations, Vol. 11.

Villanova’s top lineup

Frank Dehel, a St. Joseph’s Prep and Fordham graduate with a masters’ degree from St. Joe’s, has his own website, dribblehandoff.com. Dehel has done past analytics work for the Hawks and for Duke hoops. He looked closely at Villanova to see how and why the Wildcats have gotten to 16-3.

“One thing became clear -- they played elite basketball when the unit on the floor consists of [Colin] Gillespie, [Saddiq] Bey, [Jermaine] Samuels, and [Jeremiah] Robinson-Earl,’’ Dehel wrote in his Villanova statistical analysis..

That shouldn’t be a surprise. Those guys are starters for a reason. Still, the numbers are interesting. Dehel notes that Villanova is 33 points-per-100 possessions better than opponents when those four are on the floor together. Adding Justin Moore has been most effective, as you might expect. Dehel said that lineup is in the 97th percentile of effectiveness for lineups used all over college basketball over the last five years (among lineups that have played 150-plus possessions.)

The reason is pretty simple, Dehel added. This lineup is making threes at a 15% higher clip than opponents. “No team in the country is 15% better from deep than their opponents,’’ Dehel wrote.

Flipside: All other Villanova lineups are out-shooting opponents by 2%. “In order for Villanova to get to a championship level, they need to find a way to win those minutes,’’ Dehel wrote.

Biggest Penn issue

The Quakers looked to be an Ivy contender this season, and still could be, since only two games have been played. But dropping those two games to Princeton showed us Penn isn’t what even Penn expected to be. Why’s that? The Quakers knew they’d lost a lot of their defensive prowess to graduation last year. What they didn’t know, they’d be taking a big hit to their depth. You could have expected sophomore Michael Wang and Jonah Charles to be the starting forwards. Neither has played a minute due to injuries. Losing their offensive firepower is a big hit, but it filters all over the rest of the lineup, with everyone was asked to take on bigger roles than expected.

Penn's Michael Wang, driving on Columbia's Jake Killingsworth last February at the Palestra. Wang is out for the season with tendinitis in his knee.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Penn's Michael Wang, driving on Columbia's Jake Killingsworth last February at the Palestra. Wang is out for the season with tendinitis in his knee.

New Ivy sked

After all these decades of Ivy Friday-Saturday back-to-backs, with the extra “rivalry” games fitting in where they fit, the league announced a new plan starting next season, using 10 weeks instead of eight to play the league games. Instead of six Friday-Saturday weekends, there will be three. Also, the league will finish with a “single-game travel partner contest.” In other words, one of those Penn-Princeton games would have been held for the end.

A big reason for the switch. Princeton is moving its fall finals from January to December. This has all been approved for two seasons, subject to review after that.

My thought: Not a bad plan. You still have some of the old without being quite so rigid. The devil will be in the details, though. You think Penn or Harvard wants to play at Harvard or Penn on the second game of a back-to-back? You can argue that its fair as long as it’s back-to-back for both. Still, good luck to the league office keeping it fair while keeping it straight.

Headline you did not expect to see

Freshman Jameer Nelson Jr. leading George Washington to a big win over St. Joseph’s. The earth will keep spinning, apparently.

Temple shooting woes

Over Temple’s last five games, the Owls have only had one game where multiple players made multiple threes. (In the Cincinnati game, Alani Moore and Quinton Rose both got it going, each hitting four threes. The Owls still lost a close one.) … In the other four, only Rose hitting two against Tulane and Nate Pierre-Louis hitting two against SMU hit the multiple-threes category.

Temple’s Quinton Rose during the second half of the Cincinnati at Temple University mens NCAA basketball game at Temple’s Liacouras Center in Phila., Pa, on January 22, 2019.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Temple’s Quinton Rose during the second half of the Cincinnati at Temple University mens NCAA basketball game at Temple’s Liacouras Center in Phila., Pa, on January 22, 2019.

Drexel dropped a couple

17 assists to 34 turnovers is a tough way to win on the road.

La Salle has dropped five straight

Not making excuses here. Just understand that La Salle has been playing the upper ranks of the Atlantic 10 lately, in Rhode Island, Richmond, and VCU. What hurt the Explorers most was that they weren’t able to get a W against George Mason at home or at Massachusetts. La Salle now must win some road games to get to .500 in the league. That’s getting to be a tougher and tougher proposition as the season keeps going.

Also looking tough

My prediction that St. Joe’s would find a way to win five Atlantic 10 games is getting tougher, with the Hawks now at 0-7 in the league. In their last two games, opponents have had a 35:13 assist-to-turnover ratio. Hard to overcome that.