Villanova has expanded its presence at the Wells Fargo Center this season, opting this time not to wait until the new year when the Big East schedule is in full swing to make its first trek to South Philadelphia.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats (8-1) take on Delaware (5-2) Saturday night in their first of what will be seven games at the center.

"I like it," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I know our guys like playing down there. It's a great atmosphere.

"It's good that we get to play there in December. So many times we play a Big East team the first time we play there. We've started playing exhibition games there for that reason, but to play there against Delaware is great."

The Wildcats averaged almost 19,000 in five games played last season in South Philadelphia with two sellouts, against Georgetown and West Virginia. But they went just 3-2 in those games, losing their final two to Connecticut and WVU.

For the remainder of the season, Villanova will play two more home games at the Wells Fargo Center than it will at the Pavilion. The Cats will face a marquee opponent for their on-campus finale, going up against Pittsburgh on Feb. 12 when ESPN's College GameDay crew will be on the Main Line.

Of course, the additional revenue generated plays a big role in games scheduled at the arena. Athletic director Vince Nicastro has said the university could triple its net over what it would make at the Pavilion per game.

Delaware is far from an easy tune-up for the Wildcats. Senior Jawan Carter, a transfer from St. Joseph's, scored a season-high 29 in a win over Old Dominion. He is averaging 16.0 points, and 24 of his 27 baskets have come from three-point range.

"They're a much better team and Jawan is as tough a guard as we're going to play," Wright said. "He's got deep range, and you've got to be careful because he can shoot it at any time. He's scary; he can go off for 30-35 at any time, and that makes their other guys better."

Wright hopes to see a good crowd because of the rivalry built up between the Wildcats and Blue Hens in football. But Villanova's student turnout may be less because finals are over, while Delaware plays an NCAA FCS playoff semifinal game at home earlier in the day.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494