Bracketology 2014: Consensus puts Villanova on the 2-Line

Mitchell Leff

Every Wednesday until the second week of March, we will take a look at where Villanova is projected to land in the Tournament bracket by some major bracketologists.

On Monday morning there was some talk of the Wildcats perhaps sneaking up to the top of the bracket to earn a 1-seed commensurate with their number-4 national ranking. On Tuesday morning, that seeding seems a little less likely as Creighton exposed Villanova's fatal flaw: If one of your players can hit 64% of his shots from NBA-plus range, the Wildcats probably don't have an answer. If you have more than one shooter who can drain threes, the Wildcats don't have a prayer.

There is time before the NCAA tournament though — more than a month, in fact — and the Wildcats may yet figure out how to deal with sharpshooters. In the meantime, they are still ranked pretty high by RPI, dropping from second to fifth overall, and own 1-0 record against the top-1 in RPI that will help keep them floating rather high for a while.

In KenPom.com, the 'Cats fell from second place to fourteenth and their defensive efficiency ranking dropped from 7th to 20th overnight after the Creighton loss as well.

On to the Bracketology (all projections dated the morning of January 21st unless noted). . .

ESPN (Joe Lunardi) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region

Of course, Joe Lunardi's bracket math had pushed Villanova up to the top line on Monday morning, but his most recent bracket, dated January 16th, has the 'Cats playing the 15-seed in Buffalo. It is likely that his next revision will have them there as well. In Joey Bracket's best estimation, the Wildcats are slated to play the University of Akron (MAC) in that opening match.

Don't worry, the Zips shoot only 33.9% from deep and don't do much defense outside the arc either. In order to advance to the second weekend, they'd have to beat the winner of Harvard and UVa, and have Syracuse (1-Seed) and Ohio State (3-Seed) in their way.

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, West Region

Brace yourselves for the Catamounts, folks, because Jerry Palm is calling Vermont as the match-up for Nova in Buffalo. The Wildcats get left among the two-seeds again in this projection, with Wichita State taking the final number-one. While they would play opening weekend in the frigid north of Southern Ontario (more popularly known as western New York), a trip to Anaheim, California would await the team if they advanced to the second weekend – a feat that would require a win over UVM and then either UConn (7-Seed) or Oregon (10-Seed).

Top seeds in that region include Arizona (1-Seed) and Iowa State (3-Seed).

NBC Sports (Dave Ommen) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region

Jay Wright would get to coach against his former assistant Joe Jones again if Ommen's prediction comes true, with the Wildcats heading to Buffalo to take on Boston University. A trip to the East Regional Final would mean a classic Big East-style showdown with Syracuse at Madison Square Garden -- with everything on the line.

Not too bad. To get to MSG, the 'Cats would need to advance past BU and then take on the winner of Ohio State (7-Seed) and Florida State (10-Seed). Iowa State (3-Seed) is the other top-seed in the region.

SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region

The consensus is complete with SB Nation's own Dobber putting Villanova on the two-line with a ticket punched to Buffalo. In this projection, the Big East champs would face the America East champs, but the Nation's bracketologist is thinking that the AEast will be won by Villanova's latest football foe, Stony Brook. A win would put them up against either Ohio State (7-Seed) or Gonzaga (10-Seed).

Other top seeds in the Dobber's bracket include Syracuse (1-Seed) and Iowa State (3-Seed).

Bracketology Around the Big East

As bad as the Big East has been this season, it remains a multi-bid league. Villanova, Creighton and Xavier appear in every bracket, while a fourth slot is currently going to Providence in three of the projections. The Friars are heading to Dayton as a play-in contestant in two of the four projections and are most-commonly listed as an 11-seed. Georgetown is the fourth player in the ESPN bracket, but when Lunardi updates again, they will likely drop out.

CBS is the most bullish on Xavier, listing them as a 5-Seed, while SBN and NBC have them as a 9- and 8-seed, respectively. All of the bracketologists have Creighton in as a 4-Seed right now, except for NBC, who have the Blue Jays in as a 5.

Four bids would be a solid result for the new 10-team league after a non-conference slate saw most teams fail at their chances for a marquee win. At least one bracketologist has Georgetown just on the outside as well, if the Hoyas could join the other four schools by season's end, it would be a tremendous 50% for a conference that is trying its hardest to mimic the old Big East.

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