The new college basketball season is in full swing nationwide except at a few outposts, one of them being on the Main Line where Villanova played its first — and only — 2019-20 game on Nov. 5.
So it will be eight days between Game 1 and Game 2 for the 10th-ranked Wildcats on Wednesday night when they take on No. 16 Ohio State (2-0) at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, in the Gavitt Tipoff Games matching up teams from the Big East and the Big Ten.
Villanova coach Jay Wright said that it might have been a good idea to schedule a game last weekend for his young team, especially with a game coming up against the more experienced Buckeyes, but that he invited referees Saturday into practice and went through game simulations.
“We need as many game situations and experiences as possible,” he said after practice Tuesday. “That’s why this Ohio State game is going to be great for us, just get on the road, another game situation, quality opponent, and learn from it, win or lose.
“For a young team, it’s not bad getting to practice, to be honest. Every chance we can get to practice is good for us.”
In their only game, the Wildcats defeated Army, 97-54, shooting 52 percent from the field and placing four players in double figures, including career highs from freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (24 points), sophomore Saddiq Bey (22), and sophomore Cole Swider (18).
“As well as we shot the ball, as well as we played in that first game, we still have a lot of room to grow,” Swider said. “That’s what it’s going to take being a young team, every single day just coming in and trying to get better.”
Freshman guard Justin Moore played 28 minutes and had eight points, four assists, and a team high plus-39.
“I think I did pretty well considering our first game out, but that’s nothing,” Moore said. “I’m just going to keep getting better each and every day, especially being a guard out there on the court, just getting better at talking and bringing more energy.”
The Buckeyes have defeated Cincinnati and UMass-Lowell thus far. Caleb Wesson, a 6-foot-9, 270-pound junior forward who made honorable mention all-Big Ten last year, is averaging 10.5 points and a team-high 12.0 rebounds.
“They’re a little more advanced than us at this point,” Wright said. “They’re a good experienced team. Now their freshmen come off the bench and they’re good, but in crunch time they count on their veterans. They execute extremely well. With Wesson, they’re a big, physical team. Those are the three -- experience, execution and physicality on the glass.”
Ohio State is coached by Chris Holtmann, who was the head coach at Butler from 2014 through 2017 and went 2-4 against Wright and the Wildcats.