By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
The Villanova Wildcats released their 2017-18 schedule on Tuesday. Unlike most schedule releases in sports, which usually involve a lot of meaningless talk about stuff we already knew (oh, I see they’ll be playing around half their games at home and half on the road, how interesting), the Wildcats are dealing with an interesting wrinkle this season.
Starting in the season opener on November 10th against Columbia, Villanova will play 12 games at the Wells Fargo Center. Due to the $60 million renovation of the Pavilion, the team’s usual home court location, all but two of the team’s home games will take place in the arena the Sixers and Flyers call home; the remaining two home contests are at the PPL Center in Allentown and Jake Nevin Field House on campus.
Of course, Villanova is no stranger to playing on South Broad Street. Typically, the team plays between three and five games per season at the Wells Fargo Center, as the much larger venue affords the alumni base a good opportunity to catch the Wildcats in action live. Due to an NCAA rule that a team cannot play NCAA tournament games on its “home court”, the Wildcats have not played more than three games at the Wells Fargo Center in years when it was hosting postseason play. However, March Madness will not be returning to the Wells Fargo Center until 2022, so that was not a consideration that needed to be taken into account this season.
Surely, despite their familiarity with playing at the Wells Fargo Center, the Wildcats will miss calling the Pavilion home this year. They have been nearly unbeatable there in recent years, just having an outstanding 48-game win streak at the Pavilion snapped by Butler last season. Villanova has found success at the Wells Fargo Center as well, going 50-34 there all-time, but it’s definitely not the same as the friendly confines of playing in their own backyard.
Without question, the biggest hurdle for the upcoming season involves the loss of three starters in Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Daryl Reynolds. Still, not being able to welcome opponents to the Pavilion will also be a challenge for the Wildcats, as they begin their journey in search of their second National Championship in the past three seasons.