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Villanova Basketball’s gain is the Big East’s loss

The conference continues to eat itself alive

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! Villanova fans went into the weekend hoping their team could win out and that Marquette would unexpectedly hit a speed bump before the end of the season. They came out of the weekend with the Cats just one win away from clinching at least a share of the Big East Regular Season Championship.

But what’s great news for Villanova fans isn’t necessarily great for the conference. Sure, the Big East has proven to be very competitive this season. But that’s more because these teams are flawed and able to be exploited rather than all playing at an elite level. Even though I still think the conference will get four schools into the tournament, it’s possible none of them will be any higher than a 5 seed.

Sure, every conference has a down year here and there. But rarely is EVERYONE down in those years. Usually there’s a handful of teams that continue at an elite level even when the conference as a whole slips. That was supposed to be Villanova and Marquette this season, but even they have shown how they can be beaten.

A single season doesn’t usually have too drastic an effect. Maybe there’s a dip in recruiting, attendance, or maybe even sponsorship. But the Big East as a whole needed to start having more of a presence in March. Since realignment, the conference has had multiple teams make the Sweet 16 just once in five seasons. That’s the same number of times they’ve been shut out of the second weekend entirely in that same span. Villanova’s two Championships have kept the conference among the title leaders, but the conference needs to collectively do better if they’re going to reclaim the “Beast of the East” moniker.

Oh, and if you think this is no big deal and that things can’t spiral out of control that quickly. Take a look at the PAC-12. The “league of champions” may end up as a one bid league this season. I don’t think that’s where the Big East is headed, but let’s use it as a cautionary tail.

In other “news”, Eric Dixon is a champion, Villanova’s seniors play their final home game, and Nova helped recruit Bryce Harper? Enjoy!

Villanova defeats Butler

Villanova finally finds its shooting touch, defeats Butler, 75-54 | The Inquirer
The Wildcats, who had shot less than 40 percent from the floor in each of their previous four games, knocked down 52 percent of their shots Saturday and got 28 points from Phil Booth.

In his final game at Wells Fargo Center, Phil Booth drops 28 to lead Villanova past Butler | NBC Sports Philadelphia
Phil Booth, who has helped turn Villanova into a national power, scored 28 points Saturday in his final game at the Wells Fargo Center, leading the Wildcats to a 75-54 win over Butler.

Butler basketball falls to Villanova, 75-54, dashing NCAA tournament hopes | Indy Star
Dawgs dismal in all categories. Any flickering hope for NCAA tourney is essentially killed.

Villanova Basketball

Villanova’s Phil Booth and Eric Paschall not allowing shooting woes to affect their play | The Inquirer
The Wildcats, who broke a three-game losing streak against Marquette as Booth and Paschall played well in other areas besides shooting, take on Butler at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.

Throughout Eric Paschall’s Villanova career, the plays kept adding up | The Inquirer
His legacy: A big-time player who didn’t seek the spotlight.

How the five stars have fared this season | 247 Sports
The five-star players in the 247Sports Composite have largely been as advertised.

Villanova Basketball Adjacent

A nighttime rescue leads to a surprise Villanova game for Philly teen | The Inquirer
Deputy Sheriff Mike Terry found Kyle Tucker lost and sitting hunched over in the middle of a bus lane one night in January. He surprised the teen Saturday with tickets to a Nova basketball game.

Phillies owner on Bryce Harper: 'Does this look like stupid money?' | USA Today
Middleton, who met three times with Harper, wanted to make sure he understood just how badly he wanted to win. He provided gifts, including different aprons from the Philadelphia sports teams. He showed him a video, featuring everyone from NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving to former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins to the Villanova basketball team singing to him.

LI's Ethan Greenidge enjoys experience of being at NFL Combine | Newsday
Some scouts project Greenidge as a sixth- or seventh-round pick, and the chances are pretty good that even if he isn't drafted he'll get a chance to be on an NFL roster at some point this coming summer.

Class of 2019

Led by Eric Dixon, Abington beats Coatesville to win third straight District 1 6A basketball championship | The Inquirer
Dixon had a game-high 38 points and a key block at the end.

DeMatha looks forward to season-ending tournaments after loss in WCAC semifinals | Hyattsville Life & Times
No. 8 St. John’s beat top-ranked DeMatha in the final seconds of the game, 53-52 . The loss prevented the Stags (27-5) from repeating as WCAC champs.

NBA Wildcats

Villanova's Paschall looking to take defensive ability to NBA |
During Villanova’s national championship run in 2018, and especially this season on a team gutted by the last June’s NBA Draft, senior forward Eric Paschall has become a go-to guy. As a defender

Mikal Bridges is Still a Top Rookie in a Loaded Draft Class | Phoenix Suns
Mikal Bridges often gets unfairly lost among a loaded draft class. While he may not consistently light up the box score, he always executes the little things at a very high level. Bridges has proven that he is a prototypical 3-and-D wing.

Bubbles and Brackets

NCAA tournament Bubble Watch: What Quad 1 wins mean | ESPN
Here's your updated source for all of the latest on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Bubble Watch: Saturday's winners and losers among tourney fringe teams | USA Today
USA TODAY Sports takes a look at which teams boosted their profiles and which teams stained them two weeks out from Selection Sunday.

Bubble Watch: All hail Xavier, which is at least making things interesting | The Athletic
As we come down the home stretch, some teams that have been here for a while could get forced out by the surging Musketeers of the world

Bracketology Bubble Watch: Tracking the teams near the cut line to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament |
UCF, Utah State, and Oklahoma added big victories to enhance their tournament resumes

Indiana and Furman in the First Four in Dayton -- you know you want it | CBB Today
With the NCAA Tournament approaching, a First Four game of the Indiana Hoosiers facing the Furman Paladins is everything a college basketball...

College Basketball Bracketology 2019: Welcome to the month of madness! |
And with a late Selection Sunday and flat-out strange bubble picture, March 2019 will truly be like none that have come before it.

College Basketball Bracketology Seed List For Sunday, March 3, 2019 | Blogging the Bracket
The four No. 1 seeds are the same as they were on Friday, despite Kentucky’s loss at Tennessee. But once again, the real action is down by the cut line.

Bracketology update: First 4 out - Butler has some serious work to do | Fansided
We are almost two weeks away from Selection Sunday, which means Bracketology is in full effect. What kind of work do the first four teams out have to do?