Bracket projections place Villanova in the NCAA field as a play-in team on the 12-seed line at the moment, but despite that good news, the Wildcats are still solidly on the bubble. Will their bubble burst or will they reach the field of 68 this season?
Villanova played its way into the "Last Four In" section of the weekly bracketology projections, but that status is most-certainly on the bubble. Even with wins over two top-five teams, with seven losses, whether the Wildcats will get a bid to the tournament will remain in question for a while. So what do the Wildcats need to do to keep the bubble from bursting?
According to Philahoops.com's Greg Eversmeyer, the answer is that they probably have to win 20 games.
At the 20-win mark, the Wildcats would have a 90.2% chance of being selected for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament — and a 0.2% chance at winning the Big East's automatic bid. If they were to win 22 games, the likelihood of appearing in the NCAA bracket becomes 100%. With 11 games left and a 13-7 record, the 'Cats would have to win at least seven more games to have a good chance at going dancing and nine more games to ensure their dance card will be punched.
Currently, KenPom.com projects that Villanova is headed for an 18-13 record based on their statistical likelihood of winning going forward. That projection isn't set in stone, but if it were, Villanova would be on a crash course for a likely NIT bid — unless the NCAA Tournament selection committee were very generous, of course.
At 18 wins, Philahoops.com predicts a 8.2% chance of an at-large bid for the Wildcats, and that means that the greater likelihood is that the 'Cat would be NIT bound. Finishing the season with 19 wins wouldn't be much better, of course, with the odds of an at-large improving to just 45.8%, but the tough Big East schedule might factor in to make the tournament a possibility in that near-coinflip scenario.
Finishing the regular season with 18-wins wouldn't be a terrible scenario, however, but the pressure would be on for them to win at least two games in the Big East tournament. The closer they can get to the magic number of 20 before heading to Madison Square Garden, the less must-win pressure they will face under the bright lights of New York City.
Life on the bubble is hard, but Villanova has exceeded expectations in the past two games. They will need to continue to exceed those expectations in order to keep their bubble from bursting.