It’s time for another installment of Villanova’s Quad Goals, our ongoing series in which we track the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament Resume. If you need a refresher on the NET ratings or the Quad System, check out our previous article for additional details. And if you’re looking for more information on all the rankings, read Rankings 101.
Quad Goals is back after a VERY busy month, and a lot has happened since the last time we looked at Villanova’s resume. Villanova’s Quad 1 resume has stayed somewhat stagnent, going 2-2 in Q1 games the past month. Also, we got our first look at the NCAA’s Top 16 Teams as of two weeks ago. Villanova conveniently came in just outside that mark at number 17. Needless to say, it hasn’t been a bad month for the Wildcats, but the resume hasn’t taken any steps forward either.
Or has it?
Everything I just said is the narrative we’ve been hearing about Nova’s tournament resume. While none of it’s false, it’s also not the whole truth. So today I thought we’d look at some of the criticisms of Villanova’s resume and their path to a Top 16 seed to see how accurate they really are. Let’s dive right in with one we’ve been hearing since December.
Villanova’s losses to Furman and Penn should keep them out of consideration for a Top 16 seed: FALSE
One of the issues Nova’s resume will have to overcome is much more a perception problem than anything else. People hear Furman and Penn and instantly think those are bad losses that need to be held against the Wildcats. I’m not arguing that Villanova shouldn’t have won those games, but they’re a far cry from bad losses.
For those of you who haven’t been following the Paladins and the Quakers this season, well I can’t blame you. But let’s take a look at where they stand today. Furman has a NET ranking of 45th and has won seven of their last eight games, now 22-5 on the season. If they played in the Big East they’d be third in the conference in NET ranking, one spot higher than 46th ranked St. John’s. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, that makes it a Q2 loss. Penn ranks considerably lower in the NET at 113th, now 15-9 on the season after losing some key players to injury. But because this game was played on the road, it’s still more than 20 spots within the Q2 bracket, making it another acceptable loss. Villanova’s other four losses all fall well within Q1, giving Villanova no bad losses on the season per the NET.
Oh, and in case anyone wants to say that two Q2 losses are too many, I hope they did their research. 1) They’re wrong, and 2) they’d also have to say that about the following schools ranked in the AP Poll’s Top 25: #10 Michigan State, #13 LSU, #16 Florida State, #17 Villanova, #19 Iowa State, #22 Wisconsin, #23 Kansas State, and #24 Maryland. While you’re at it, maybe mention that #6 Nevada and #25 Buffalo also have Q3 losses on their resumes.
Villanova doesn’t have enough Quad 1 opportunities remaining to climb the seeding ladder: FALSE
Again the Wildcats are facing a perception problem that will hopefully be mitigated when the selection committee looks at the data. The Big East is having a down season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t Q1 games out there. In fact, Villanova will likely have a shot at four more Q1 victories before Selection Sunday.
The two that are all but guaranteed right now are vs. Marquette and at Seton Hall to close out the regular season. After that, the Big East Tournament could provide as many as two more Q1 opportunities. Marquette, St. John’s, and Butler are all ranked Top 50 in the NET, which would all count as Q1 wins in the BET’s neurtral court designation. If Villanova faced two of those teams in the Semis and the Finals, they could have a 7-4 Q1 record Last season only five teams entered Selection Sunday with 25 wins and 7 Q1 wins, and all five were Top 16 seeds.
But just because the opportunities are there, doesn’t mean that Villanova will take advantage of them. So if Nova doesn’t get the Q1 wins it needs to climb the ladder, what’s another factor could help them in the selection committee?
Villanova’s difficult Non-Conference schedule will pay off at the end of the season: TRUE
This hasn’t been as much of a talking point, but it should be. Villanova got aggressive with non-con scheduling this year considering the young team they were going to be putting on the floor. The result is the 20th ranked Non-Conference SOS and the 16th overall SOS. They’re one of only six AP Poll Top 25 schools that are Top 20 in both SOS and NC SOS, something that clearly showed as a bolstering factor in the selection committee’s early Top 16 seed reveal.
It’s not the biggest peace of the puzzle, but it’s certainly a contributing factor. If Villanova can finish strong, that initial foundation is going to pay dividends in what I believe could be a Top 16 Seed, maybe even a Top 12 Seed if everything breaks Villanova’s way.
Ok, enough with the true/false, let’s get into Villanova’s Quad Goals.
Villanova Basketball’s Quad Goals
Villanova’s going to need to finish strong down the stretch, not only to climb the seeding ladder but also to prevent falling down it. Here’s what the resume looks like today.
Here are some additional thoughts I had on Nova’s Resume:
- The more we get into the Quad system, the more I’m convinced that the Big 5 is a good thing for Villanova. I’m not talking specifically this year, but overall. Having two road games a year, not far from home, against potentially Q1 or Q2 opponents is an advantage not many other schools will have. They just pay smaller schools for home games that have no shot at being anything more than Q3 at best.
- Nova’s win at Providence has flirted back and forth with being a Q1 win, currently sitting on the Q2 side. If the Friars can finish strong down the stretch, they could sneak back into the NET Top 75 and give Nova’s resume an extra boost.
- On the reverse side of that coin, the Q1 win at Creighton has slowly been falling into the danger zone. Thankfully, the Bluejays finish the season with three of their five games at home, and are favored by KenPom to win all of their remaining games except at Marquette.
- Nova’s game tomorrow at Georgetown could also fall into the Q1 category by the end of the season, although Georgetown losing to the Wildcats would likely set them back slightly. It’s a long shot as the Hoyas have a tough home stretch, but they’re currently just 4 spots out of being a Q1 away opponent in the NET rankings.