I’m not going to lie, my heart dropped on Sunday morning when I started to see the projections. More than a few Bracketologists had Villanova facing that tiny school from the West Coast in the round of 64.
It’s basically 2010 all over again. Hartford and Providence are separted by less than 90 miles. Villanova fans will be out in full force. St. Mary’s has to make a cross-country trip. One team comes with power-conference cache and star power, the other a sum-of-its-parts group adored by the metrics, capable of knocking off Goliath.
I’m sorry for what you are about to see. Let’s have this cathartic experience together. It needs to happen and get flushed from the system.
I don’t mean to do this to make you relive that nightmare of a day.*
*Other than my friend Vin yelling to Bill Raftery at halftime to meet us at Mohegan Sun, to which a CBS producer strated waving his arms frantically as if the fear of God had entered his soul and yelled, “No! No! We can’t lose him!”
I want you to relive it because I want you to remember that feeling. We as fans should relish the opportunity to take another crack at a program that gave us one of our worst memories. A program that ended Scottie Reynolds’ career with one of his worst games in the blue and white.
All of that, weaponized appropriately, can create the type of atmosphere and home-court advantage that can tilt the scales in what the analytics suggest should be a one-possession game. KenPom is basically calling it a coin flip.
Yes, St. Mary’s is a good team. And this Villanova team has its flaws, much like the 2010 version did. This could be the Providence experince all over again, except in a much worse venue.
Screw it though. Fear is for amateurs. Omar Samhan isn’t walking through that door. Neither are Matthew Dellevadova or Mickey McConnell.
This is the matchup we should want, and the matchup that the gods have rewarded us with. Now it’s up to the Villanova team, staff, and fans to make sure that when Villanova and St. Mary’s meet in another 10 years, we remember bouncing them from the NCAA Tournament en route to more March magic.