A huge win on Wednesday night over the Big East co-champion Georgetown Hoyas has let Nova Nation breathe a sigh of relief. While it seems like Villanova should earn a bid to the 68 team NCAA field, I'll tell you why the Cats must play well at Madison Square Garden this week.
After yesterday's hoops action, the Big East Tournament bracket was finalized, with Villanova earning a 7 seed and drawing the 10th seeded St. John's Red Storm. Right now, Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats slightly ahead of the 4 at- large teams who would play in the First Four games in Dayton, Ohio. Losing to an undermanned St. John's team without their best player in D'Angelo Harrison certainly would not impress the Selection Committee.
An opening round loss could drop the Cats to that First Four round in the NCAA Tournament. Moreover, the so-called "bubble teams" got some big wins this past weekend; Kentucky upset Florida, Temple beat VCU, and Baylor waxed Kansas.
Staying out of Dayton, Ohio is always key for any team looking to make a deep run in NCAA Tournament. VCU did play in the First Four two years ago and went to the Final Four, but for a team that doesn't have all that much depth, Villanova cannot afford to play an extra game. Some may say winning that First Four game gives teams momentum, but it also means an extra game you have to win in addition to extra travel and then, less time to prepare.
The Wildcats have been impressive at times this year, but they need to impress the selection committee this week under the bright lights by at least beating the Red Storm on their home court.