If you have read an article on VUHoops, browsed any of the comments, or went outside your house, you've most likely heard a Villanova fan argue that the team gets no national attention because Fox Sports 1 covers the Big East and ESPN has a bias for the Power 5. Well, ESPN's Rece Davis released his bracket picks for the first time, and talked about where he has Villanova going and what they are capable of.
Before the debate, the TV journalist went into detail about the Capital One Cup, where he serves as one of the six advisers.
"We talked about the best way to frame the competition in order to reward all the athletes no matter what sport," said Davis on what the Capital One Cup means. "Now our primary role is to create a little more awareness about the Cup, not only with the competitive things, but we also want to let them know that it's not just a trophy for the administrators to pat each other on the back and brag about over cigars and brandy. This is really to benefit the young men and women who play sports in college."
There are two winners for the Cup, one for women's sports and one for men's. The schools get a combined $400,000 to put towards student-athlete scholarships. "The money is important because it goes right to the people who are playing sports while pursuing their education."
"Capital One is doing what we all say that Athletics at their finest should be- to create opportunity for competitive greatness within the arena and for great success out of the arena as well."
Points for the Cup are, for the most part, based on national standings at the end of the year. The sports are divided into Group A and Group B. Group A include wrestling, cross country, and golf while Group B includes more prominent sports such as football, basketball and baseball.
Villanova is holding their own in 18th place in the Men's Cup Standings, thanks to 7th place finishes each in the FCS-Football program and Men's Cross Country. Both the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes hold clear leads after meeting in the National Championship Game back in January, and similarly ND State for winning the Division I FCS Championship. The Villanova Women are currently out of the Top 50.
If Villanova were to win the NCAA Tournament, they would gain 60 points be in the driver's seat for a Capital One Cup victory. The trophy is awarded at the ESPY's in July.
Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, the SportsCenter anchor supported the Selection Committee by stating there were no snubs in his book. Murray State was a team many questioned as 6:00pm approached, only to have their name selected for the NIT. "I understand why people would feel for Murray State. They had a great season, but they won 25 in a row against lesser competition and when they played some of the higher level teams they got destroyed." While 25 straight wins is impressive at any level, the Selection Committee believes those wins are, in a way, 'inflated.'
Davis went on to argue the merit of that decision: "You can argue as to the fairness of that, but from my standpoint if you are in those conferences you know the deal- you have to win your conference tournament. That's how they award the automatic bid. If you are not going to, then you have to put together a significant resume outside of that, and Murray State was unable to do that. They lost to Houston who wasn't very good in the American, and got absolutely obliterated by Xavier and [Valparaiso] who were both tournament teams."
He understands that teams change over the course of a season, and there are different challenges and obstacles teams must overcome especially early in the season, but he stuck by his point. "That was in November and I'm sure they are a better team- I know they are- but you have to weigh on Selection Sunday. There's more Arts than Science. You have to balance a little bit of best and most deserving, and the only things that you got from Murray State that told you best was winning 25 in a row against largely lesser competition. They had no case at all for most deserving."
"Performance in the tournament doesn't validate or invalidate your selection," he concluded, saying that a team that plays well in the tournament does not deduce their success and resume during the regular season. Conversely, a team that performed above expectations all season but gets bounced in the Second Round does not assume the team should have been left out of the field of 68.
Villanova heard that same arguments last season and into this one, with many fans and sports figures alike calling out the lack of star power on the team itself but also in the Big East.
Without further ado, here are Rece's Picks.
Rece defended his selection immediately. "It's not that [Villanova's] ceiling is the Elite 8. When you make those picks, and you've done the research going in, the last few years have had very few one seeds in the Final Four. Over the last five years, just as many one seeds have made it to the Final Four as have been bounced in the Round of 32. I sort of felt like I had to look at one bracket where the one seed had more challenges along the line. I don't see any challenges for Kentucky, not just because they are dominant but because [the committee] did a really good job seeding. Same token for Wisconsin. I don't see a big threat to Duke but have Gonzaga overtaking them on a pure gut play that maybe this is Gonzaga's year."
He ultimately described his MSU pick as a filler or sorts. "I felt like I needed an outlier someplace. We've seen Michigan State screw up games in almost logic-defying fashion, but if Michigan State just made 70% of its free throws in its losses, I believe they would only have three or four losses opposed to the eleven they have now. It was in no way 'Villanova! Three years in a row! Can't get out of the Rounf of 32!'"
Countering his bracket picks, he believes VIllanova is talented enough to win it all. "I don't think Villanova has a ceiling at the Elite 8. I believe they could win the National Championship. It's the shooters; they've got a lot of them. I love the way that Ryan Arcidiacono has matured in his three years there. They build up on the outside, whether it's Darrun Hilliard, Josh Hart. In every highlight I do, Villanova is raining threes."
He didn't forget about their frontcourt, praising Daniel Ochefu for "being a great project. He's coming along great.
He ended by commending Coach Wright's style: "Jay coaches guys beautifully." No, he didn't mention his suit style.
"Great shooters are the great equalizers, and that's why I think Villanova is going to have a great tournament."
You can follow the Capital One Cup on Twitter.
You can follow Rece Davis on Twitter.