While chugging a few brews and watching college football at 2SP in Aston/Chester Township, I got to chatting with a visitor from Oklahoma who asked who are the college football teams fans follow around here. I hesitantly answered Penn State, but is Penn State really from around here?
Upon further review, folks around here don’t follow any college sports despite there being a ton of colleges with a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia. Even the most successful college program in the last several years hardly gets a mention among the diehard sports fans around here – that would be Villanova University men’s basketball.
With so many of the colleges in our area being small compared to the traditional big school sports programs across the country, the Philadelphia area schools market their academic excellence over athletic prowess.
However, throughout the years, Philadelphia schools have competed with the big boys in basketball with the greatest success coming from the Main Line Villanova teams winning 2 of the last 3 NCAA National Men’s Basketball championships.
Phil Booth was the leading scorer on the 2016 championship team, sat out 2017 with a bum leg, then came back in 2018 to win the 2nd championship. As a 5th year senior, he’s rapping up his Nova career carrying this year’s team that wasn’t expected to do much as a result of losing 4 underclassmen to the NBA draft last year.
After a slow start, this year’s Villanova team beat up on all the Philly teams before the University of Pennsylvania spanked them at the Palestra. Now they’re plowing through the Big East with huge wins against teams that struggle to beat each other. I can’t wait for the Marquette game on Feb 9 to see if they can shut down likely NBA lottery pick Markus Howard.
Phil Booth has scored 20 points in half his games this year and in 5 of the last 6. He hit 26 3-pointers in those last 6 games and if you watched the Seton Hall game yesterday where he hit 7 3-pointers, most were behind the NBA 3-point line.
I think he’s the best college basketball player in Philadelphia that hardly anyone is paying attention to.