DETROIT – Last year, Villanova made it to the Sweet 16, came to Ford Field and lost big to Kansas, which went on to win the national title.
Tonight, in the same venue, the Wildcat’s first Final Four appearance in 24 years ended much the same way. They lost to the preseason No. 1 team in the country, North Carolina, 83-69.
The Wildcats (30-8), who tied the school record for regular-season victories and set the school record for overall wins, fell behind early and never really recovered. It’s one thing to trail American at the Wachovia Center by 14 with 19 minutes to go. It’s another to spot the Tar Heels (33-4) a 17-point advantage after 13 minutes.
Marquette had lost its last four games, all to ranked opponents, since losing starting point guard Dominic James with a broken foot.
Still, the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles (24-8), the fifth seed in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, advanced into Thursday's quarterfinals against Villanova with a 74-45 win over No. 13 St. John's (16-17), which had eliminated No. 12 Georgetown on Tuesday.
The 10th-ranked Wildcats (25-6) are the No. 4 seed.
Villanova forward Dante Cunningham was selected to the All-Big East second team in a vote of the league's coaches. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players. Guard Scottie Reynolds was named honorable mention.
The Big East changed its format this season, returning to five-member teams instead of the 10-member teams of the past three seasons.
The league will announce its player of the year, coach of the year, rookie of the year and scholar-athlete on Tuesday. Other awards will be announced Monday.
Our weekly look at the Big East Conference:
Tomorrow: at Seton Hall, 8 (WPHL)
Saturday: vs. Louisville, Wachovia Center, Noon (ESPN).
GAME OF THE WEEK: In this neighborhood, you usually have your choice of a dozen or so. We’ll go with Georgetown at Notre Dame, tonight (ESPN, 7). Hoyas have won at Connecticut and lost at home to Pittsburgh, where they’d won 26 straight. Now this. Irish have won 43 in a row in South Bend.
Just got this from the LaSalle athletic department, regarding tickets for the Villanova-LaSalle game on Sunday night at the Tom Gola Arena:
The La Salle University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has announced that a small number of tickets will be made available to purchase individually for this Sunday’s Big 5 match-up against Villanova. The tickets, which were initially only available as part of a three-game package, can now be bought individually while supplies last.
The tickets, which were initially only available as part of a three-game package, can now be bought individually while supplies last.
Some winning teams, you can judge by their statistics. Other winning teams, you can understand by watching on television. To judge at least one winning team in this town, you need to be in the gym.
Villanova will never dazzle you with stats or the beauty of its play. But if you take the time to watch the play away from the ball, see how nobody is ever left on a defensive island and concentrate on a player like Dante Cunningham who makes every little basketball play purists and coaches love, then you get the essence of the 2008-09 Wildcats.
On paper, Villanova (6-0) was to gets first real test of the season in the championship game of Saturday's Philly Hoop Group Classic Saturday night at the Palestra. Rhode Island (5-2) had lost only at Duke and that by three points.