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USATSI

Villanova entered the Battle 4 Atlantis without a number next to its name because of a 76-72 loss to Penn early last week that dropped the Wildcats from 21st to unranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and from 23rd to unranked in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. As I wrote the following morning, that loss as a 12.5-point favorite represented the fifth time in Kyle Neptune's first 37 games as Jay Wright's successor that the 38-year-old coach fell to a sub-100 team at KenPom.com.

Not good.

But it's been all good since then.

The Wildcats bounced-back from their loss to Penn with a 57-40 win over Maryland, then extended their winning streak to four games with victories in the Bahamas over Texas Tech, North Carolina and Memphis to secure the Battle 4 Atlantis trophy.

All five starters reached double-figures vs. Memphis.

Villanova led Penny Hardaway's Tigers by as many as 35 points Friday before cruising to a 79-63 victory. The dominant win pushed the Wildcats to No. 17 in Saturday morning's updated Top 25 And 1 and reestablished the three-time national champions as real challengers to Marquette, UConn and Creighton in the Big East.

"Just proud of my guys and coaches for sticking together throughout the week," said Villanova's Justin Moore, who had 11 points against Memphis and is now averaging a team-high 15.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 29.7 minutes per game. "We put a lot of work in each and every day. So just us grinding and coming together is what I'm proud of."

Up next four Villanova is a four-game stretch that will offer consistent challenges for different reasons. Here's the schedule:

  • Wednesday: vs. Saint Joseph's
  • Dec. 5: at Kansas State
  • Dec. 9: vs, UCLA
  • Dec. 20: at Creighton

That's a Big Five game against Saint Joe's followed by three straight matchups with top-40 KenPom teams, two of which — at Kansas State and at Creighton — will be played on the road. A 3-1 record in that stretch would be terrific, 2-2 acceptable.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers
10 Villanova
10 Memphis
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Purdue Zach Edey finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds in Wednesday's 78-75 win over Marquette. The Boilermakers' next game is Tuesday against Texas Southern. -- 25-3
2 Marquette Marquette allowed Purdue to shoot 50.8% from the field in Wednesday's 78-75 loss to the Boilermakers. The Golden Eagles' next game is Tuesday against Southern. -- 21-6
3 Arizona Caleb Love finished with 17 points and four assists in Thursday's 74-68 win over Michigan State. The Wildcats' next game is Saturday against Colgate. -- 21-6
4 Duke Kyle Filipowski finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds in Friday's 80-62 win over Southern Indiana. The Blue Devils' next game is Wednesday at Arkansas. -- 21-6
5 Kansas Hunter Dickinson finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds in Wednesday's 69-60 win over Tennessee. The Jayhawks' next game is Tuesday against Eastern Illinois. -- 21-6
6 Houston LJ Cryer finished with 24 points and four rebounds in Friday's 79-44 win over Montana. The Cougars' next game is Friday at Xavier. -- 24-3
7 UConn Cam Spencer finished with 18 points and two steals in Friday's 90-60 win over Manhattan. The Huskies' next game is Monday against New Hampshire. -- 25-3
8 Miami Nijel Pack finished with 28 points and two rebounds in Sunday's 91-83 win over Kansas State. The Hurricanes' next game is Tuesday at Kentucky. -- 15-13
9 Tennessee Tennessee only shot 31.0% from the field in Wednesday's 69-60 loss to Kansas. The Vols' next game is Wednesday against North Carolina. -- 21-6
10 Baylor RayJ Dennis finished with 24 points and eight assists in Friday's 95-91 win over Florida. The Bears' next game is Tuesday against Nicholls State. 1 19-8
11 Gonzaga Anton Watson finished with 32 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 69-65 win over UCLA. The Zags' next game is Tuesday against Cal State Bakersfield. 1 22-6
12 Kentucky D.J. Wagner finished with 28 points and five assists in Friday's 118-82 win over Marshall. The Wildcats' next game is Tuesday against Miami. 1 19-8
13 FAU Johnell Davis finished with 26 points and three assists in Friday's 96-89 win over Texas A&M. The Owls' next game is Sunday against Virginia Tech. 2 21-7
14 Texas A&M Texas A&M allowed FAU to shoot 53.6% from the field in Friday's 96-89 loss to the Owls. The Aggies' next game is Sunday against Iowa State. 4 15-12
15 Texas Texas only grabbed seven offensive rebounds in Monday's 81-71 loss to UConn. The Longhorns' next game is Sunday against Wyoming. 1 17-10
16 Colo. St. Isaiah Stevens finished with 20 points and seven assists in Thursday's 69-48 win over Creighton. The Rams' next game is Wednesday against Colorado. 1 20-8
17 Villanova TJ Bamba finished with 13 points and three rebounds in Friday's 79-63 win over Memphis. The Wildcats' next game is Wednesday against Saint Joseph's. NR 15-12
18 Creighton Trey Alexander missed 15 of the 16 shots he attempted in Thursday's 69-48 loss to Colorado State. The Bluejays' next game is Thursday against Oklahoma State. -- 20-8
19 N. Carolina Harrison Ingram finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in Friday's 87-72 win over Arkansas. The Tar Heels' next game is Wednesday against Tennessee. NR 21-6
20 Michigan St. Michigan State only had 10 assists on 26 baskets in Thursday's 74-68 loss to Arizona. The Spartans' next game is Tuesday against Georgia Southern. -- 17-11
21 Illinois Terrence Shannon finished with 19 points and two rebounds in Friday's 84-52 win over Western Illinois. The Illini's next game is Saturday against Rutgers. 1 20-7
22 Miss. St. Josh Hubbard finished with 29 points and three rebounds in Sunday's 66-57 win over Northwestern. The Bulldogs' next game is Friday against Nichols State. 3 19-8
23 Oklahoma Javian McCollum finished with 18 points and three assists in Friday's 72-70 win over USC. The Sooners' next game is Thursday against Arkansas Pine Bluff. NR 19-8
24 Memphis Jaykwon Walton was 1-of-9 from the field in Friday's 79-63 loss to Villanova. The Tigers' next game is Saturday at Ole Miss. 10 20-8
25 BYU Jaxson Robinson finished with 23 points and four rebounds in Friday's 95-86 win over NC State. The Cougars' next game is Friday against Fresno State. NR 19-8
26 UCLA Dylan Andrews was 2-of-15 from the field in Wednesday's 69-65 loss to Gonzaga. The Bruins' next game is Thursday against UC Riverside. -- 14-13

IN: Villanova, North Carolina, Oklahoma, BYU | OUT: Arkansas, USC, Iowa State, Alabama