The wait ends tonight. The speculation will end and the planning will begin for Villanova's coaching staff. What seemed like a potential 1-Seed not long ago is now in question, but the Wildcats will hear their name called when tonight's NCAA bracket is revealed.
The Big East, for it's part, worked it's way back to at least four bids to the dance. 40% of the league of 10 members are expecting an invitation, with Providence putting on an impressive show at Madison Square Garden to top Creighton in the league's title game. The Friars will avoid a trip to Dayton with the win, though Xavier may still have to win a First Four match-up to join the other four in the Round of 64.
Elsewhere, Michigan knocked off Ohio State to face Michigan State in today's Big Ten title game. Duke and UVa will meet to play for the ACC title as well. All are candidates for the fourth number-1 seed, along with Florida, Arizona and Wichita State.
[Editor's Note: Before we write off that 1-Seed, NBC says: "The Wildcats could still emerge as the East Region leader if both the Wolverines and Cavaliers lose."]
The Wildcats are now 6th in the RPI, holding steady from the last projection. They are also holding at 6th in the KenPom.com computer rankings, with the 17th-best offensive efficiency and the 15th-best defense in the nation.
On to the Bracketology...
ESPN (Joe Lunardi) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has shifted the final 1-Seed over to Michigan, while moving Villanova down to a 2-Seed in his East Region. Now the Wildcats are slated to face 15-seed American University of the Patriot League -- the same opponent that they launched their 2009 run against. Either Baylor (7-Seed) or a St Joseph's (10-Seed) rematch would await in the second round.
Virginia is currently the 3-Seed in the region, though they would move up to at least the 2-line with a win over Duke. Other top seeds include Pac-12 champions UCLA (4-Seed), and Cincinnati (5-Seed), with Michigan topping the quadrant.
CBS Sports (Jerry Palm) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region
Palm's projection matches ESPN in a few ways. First, the Wildcats are the East Region's 2-Seed, slated to face American University in Buffalo to open the tournament. Second, the East Region's 1-Seed is now listed as Michigan. To advance to the second weekend, Villanova would have to beat the winner of Baylor (7-Seed) and old Big East foe Pittsburgh (10-Seed) as well.
Top seeds in Palm's East region include Michigan (1-Seed), Cincinnati (3-Seed), Duke (4-Seed), and Oklahoma (5-Seed)
NBC Sports (Dave Ommen) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region
Dave Ommen updated his bracket at 9:12am, and you aren't going to believe it, but NBC's projection now has the Wildcats as a 2-Seed in the East Region, opening against American University in Buffalo. Michigan is his 1-Seed in the East, as they were in the previous two brackets. Should Villanova hope to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, either Saint Louis (7-Seed) or Arizona State (10-Seed) will stand in their way.
Other top seeds in the NBC East Regional projection include Duke (3-Seed), Cincinnati (4-Seed), and UCLA (5-Seed).
SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean) - 2 Seed, Buffalo, East Region
It's unanimous. Around 10:00am, Dobbertean put Nova down on his 2-line in the East Region, facing American University, with Michigan penciled in as the 1-Seed. The winner of the Villanova/American game will draw either Saint Louis (7-Seed) or Kansas State (10-Seed) for a chance to go to the Sweet Sixteen.
Other top seeds in the region include Virginia (3-Seed), Cincinnati (4-Seed) and UCLA (5-Seed).
Bracketology Around the Big East
The Bubble is bust for St. John's and Georgetown, but an excellent game plan by Providence kept Creighton off-balance in the Big East final and punched the Friar's ticket to the dance. Villanova and Creighton have locked up their at-large bids, but Xavier may still be considered on the "bubble." The Musketeer's chances are better than good, however, so while there remains a slight chance of a snub tonight, the Big East is expecting to claim four Tournament entries this year.
The schools are seeded as follows:
ESPN - 4 Bids: (2) Villanova, (4) Creighton, (11 - Play In) Xavier, (12) Providence
CBS - 4 Bids: (2) Villanova, (4) Creighton, (11) Providence, (11 - Play In) Xavier
NBC - 4 Bids: (2) Villanova, (3) Creighton, (11) Xavier, (11) Providence
SBN - 4 Bids: (2) Villanova, (3) Creighton, (10) Providence, (11) Xavier