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 rankings 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.
We know one thing with 100% certainty: Villanova will be in the NCAA Tournament.
Ok, we knew that weeks ago. But last night’s 3rd consecutive Big East Tournament Championship officially punched Nova’s ticket to the big dance. It was the last game the Wildcats will play before their first round game, and now there’s only one question left to answer: Where will Villanova be seeded?
The question alone brings up a number of subsequent questions like where will they play? Who will they face? What’s the path? I can’t help with those, but purely figuring out what Villanova’s seed will be is what Quad Goals has been working all season to determine. That comes down to how the selection committee will view Villanova’s resume, and then how that resume holds up to the other teams in consideration around them. We’ll start with Villanova’s resume, but first we need to check in with the newest editions to the squad:
Lights. Camera. Action. pic.twitter.com/1CuIKvtJva— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 13, 2019
Villanova’s NCAA Tournament Resume
Let’s take a minute to talk about the Big East Tournament from a resume perspective. First and foremost I’d like to point out that nowhere on this sheet does it say “Champions”. Sure, that may end up as a factor to some committee members or a tie breaker for close teams, but it’s not a major factor in considering someone’s seed. The more important piece of the conference tournaments is getting the additional games to stockpile wins. Bottom line, the title doesn’t move you up the seed lines nearly as much as the wins do.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, those wins aren’t nearly as helpful as we would have liked. The same factors that led to Nova’s regular season title, like the league cannibalizing itself in February and Marquette’s collapse, are the reasons Nova’s Big East Tournament run didn’t give them a huge boost. All three of Villanova’s games at Madison Garden were Q2 games, even on the neutral court. Sure, Providence was able to get its NET score back to 70 so that Nova’s road win counted as a Q1 victory, but that’s the only Q1 game the BET produced. Nova really needed more help there, as they still sit below .500 in Q1 games (5-6).
That isn’t to say there aren’t reasons to be optimistic about this resume either. Villanova is one of just four schools that finished with 18 or more Q1 & Q2 victories. That list also includes Michigan, Michigan State, and Kansas. Nova also went a perfect 7-0 in neutral court games this season, including their best win of the year over a Florida State team that looks in line for a 3 or 4 seed. And of course, despite early losses to Furman and Penn (both Q2), none of Villanova’s losses this season came in Q3 or Q4 games.
There are some lesser metrics that play a part as well, like their average 22nd(ish) ranking in predictive metrics, their 13th ranked SOS, and 33rd ranked Non-Con SOS. But the other big factor that no one really knows how it will effect seeding is the NET.
The NET is the new ranking system that the NCAA created this season to replace the RPI. It’s the backbone of the Quadrant system, and the whole point of it was to put more value on how good a team was instead of how good their opponents were. Because it’s the first year, most experts think that the committee will try not to stray too far from the rankings in order to show that it works. How does that translate? I’d say there will be only a handful of schools that end up more than a seed-line or two off of their NET ranking.
That could be a problem for the Wildcats, as they currently stand at 26 in the NET. That would equate to a 7-seed, although hardly any bracketologists have the Wildcats that far down. In fact, now’s a good time to see where Villanova is ranking among its piers, and figuring out where they’ll land in the tournament.
Bracketology is by no means an exact science, but people had started getting pretty good at determining who’s in, who’s out, and how they’ll be seeded. According to most of the major outlets like CBS (4), ESPN (5), FOX (5), and NBC (6), the Wildcats should end up falling somewhere in the 4-6 seed range. BracketMatrix.com agrees, currently seeding the Wildcats as a 5 seed:
I said yesterday that Villanova had a shot at jumping up to a 4 seed, and technically they still do. But with Auburn still playing and some of the teams that lost not dropping the way we hoped they would, it’s the longest of long shots at this point. By that same logic, I think a 6 seed is also unlikely. In most brackets Villanova remains ahead of fellow conference champions Iowa State and Buffalo. And despite Marquette having twice as many Q1 wins as Villanova, it’s unlikely they get seeded ahead of the Wildcats given how their seasons ended.
A 5 seed is the most likely outcome at this point, based on the teams in contention and their tournament resumes. And that’s the biggest factor to consider at this point, the resumes. Based on how the selection committee votes teams into bracket seeding, it’s important to consider the resumes of the teams that will likely be around the Wildcats. It’s also important to know because if Villanova does land as a 5 seed and wins the dreaded 5 v 12 matchup, it’s going to face off against someone on the 4-line. With that in mind, here are the quick stats on the Top 29 resumes from the NCAA’s Nitty Gritty report.
You may need to zoom in on some of those stats up there, but that’s the main tool the selection committee is looking at when deciding who will go where on the seed lines. While it’s sorted by the NET, we don’t know exactly how important each of these metrics are. It’s safe to assume that Q1 wins are very important, the NET rating will come into play, and overall wins are always good to have. Things like SOS and losses, will likely also play a significant if not smaller factor.
At the end of the day, I think Villanova is going to be hurt by the fact that there are a number of schools who have done enough to get 4 seed. That February losing streak will come back to bite them, and eventually be the reason they end up on the 5-line. It’s a scary spot to be considering the history of the 5 v 12 matchup. Don’t believe me? Bracket Matrix currently has the St. Mary’s team that beat #1 Gonzaga, Murray State with likely lottery pick Ja Morant, and Conference Champions New Mexico State and Liberty as the 12 seeds.
That said, Villanova is good enough to get through any of those opponents and face off against a 4 seed for the chance at extending the season to the second weekend. And if Villanova is a 5 seed, that will be the measure of this team: Can they make the Sweet 16? Expectations were admitedly higher than that to start the season, but now I think that’s a reasonable goal given what we’ve seen from this group over the past few weeks.
As you can see above, none of those teams on the 4-line would be a cake-walk. That said, none of them are unbeatable. In fact, only Kansas even played for its conference title. It’s going to be a long day of waiting, and once the bracket comes out none of this matters. But until we get to 6PM EST, we’ll just have to be content with all our Championships and Trophies. #BlueBloodProblems