FINAL: 84-72, Villanova: In the end, there really wasn't any drama about this one. The Wildcats head to the Sweet 16, where they'll face top-seed Kansas at Ford Field in Detroit.
How about that.
PREAMBLE: WASHINGTON -- It is, in its own kind of way, an all-Philadelphia showdown in Tampa.
Yes, Siena College is located in Loudonville, N.Y., a few miles from Albany, but Saints coach Fran McCaffery is as Philly as it gets.
Today, the former Penn player and assistant gets his shot at Villanova, the team he grew up rooting for.
As Bob Ford writes in today's Inquirer, McCaffery still holds Big 5 basketball close to his heart, and his program maintains deep ties to our area.
So with that -- and the desk in my old bedroom at my parents' house -- as the backdrop, it's time for the Wildcats and Saints to get things going.
Hey, if nothing else, this was my office for a good 10 years, which is a lot longer than I've been at Philly.com.
Ideally, I'd like today's liveblog to be much more about your comments than what happens in the game. I'm watching on TV just like the rest of you, and unlike Thursday's liveblog, this time we aren't in the office at the same time.
Latest updates appear at the top of the post.
0:02 2nd, 84-72 Villanova: Siena's Clarence Jackson banks in a heave of a three-pointer for the last points of the game.
1:00 2nd, 84-69 Villanova:I finally get the game streaming online, and the Wildcats have put the thing away at last.
3:29 2nd, 75-64 Villanova: And I just got bumped off the Villanova game. I know the Georgetown game gets a protected broadcast here in D.C., but dropping two eastern teams for Texas-Miami? Come on.
6:28 2nd, 67-58 Villanova: Alex Franklin drives to basket for a layup-and-one on Shane Clark, but Franklin misses the free throw and Dwayne Anderson gets the rebound. Then Scottie Reynolds makes a layup to get the Wildcats' lead back up to 11 points, and now the Saints have turned the ball over on consecutive possessions.
9:45 2nd, 61-51 Villanova: A mini-run for Siena looks about to continue when Dwayne Anderson steps on the baseline, but the Saints commit a turnover at the other end.
There are now five Wildcats with three fouls each: Scottie Reynolds, Corey Stokes, Dwayne Anderson (those three are on the floor now), Shane Clark and Casiem Drummond.
12:58 2nd, 57-43 Villanova: Tim Brando says Villanova hasn't put the game away, but I've yet to see Siena do anything that really makes me think they can come back.
There are, by the way, a lot of empty seats in the upper deck at the St. Pete Times Forum. I can't believe that's on purpose. I know UConn is out, but don't NCAA Tournament games at NBA-sized almost always sell out?
16:24 2nd, 53-37 Villanova: A visibly annoyed Fran McCaffery calls timeout after a Dante Cunningham putback gives the Wildcats their largest lead yet.
19:06 2nd, 45-32 Villanova: Another Reynolds three, this one from the top of the arc, opens the second-half scoring.
HALFTIME, 42-32 Villanova: Siena's Chris De La Rosa blew a chance to get Villanova's lead into single-digits by traveling with 1.2 seconds left, so the Wildcats take a 10-point edge into the locker room.
A question to ponder in the meantime: Is the lead more a reflection of how Villanova is playing or how Siena is
Villanova shot 15-for-30 from the field (50.0%), including 5-for-8 from three-point range (62.5%) and 10-for-22 from two-point range (45.5%), and 7-for-10 from the free throw line (70.0%). Four offensive rebounds, 17 defensive rebounds, eight assists, eight turnovers, three steals, two blocks and 14 fouls committed.
That adds up to 38 possessions and 1.094 points per possession.
Scottie Reynolds is the Wildcats' leading scorer with 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-4 from three-point range.
Siena shot 8-for-29 from the field (27.6%), including 3-for-12 from three-point range (25.0%) and 5-for-17 from two-point range (29.4%), and 13-for-20 from the free throw line (65.0%). Six offensive rebounds, 12 defensive rebounds, five assists, six turnovers, five steals, two blocks and nine fouls committed.
That adds up to 38 possessions and 0.847 points per possession.
Alex Franklin leads the Saints with 12 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field and 6-for-9 from the free throw line.
"So far, the Villanova guards have been playing with Philadelphia freedom," CBS play-by-play man Tim Brando just said. Yikes.
3:36 1st, 36-26 Villanova: An offensive foul called on Scottie Reynolds brings us to the last media timeout of the first half. The Wildcats have a comfortable 10-point lead, with Reynolds' 17 points leading all scorers.
'Nova is shooting an impressive 14-for-27 (51.9%) from the field and has a 16-10 advantage on the glass. The 11 fouls committed are a bit disturbing, though, with three each for Casiem Drummond and Dante Cunningham.
At the other end, Siena is really struggling -- 7-for-25 from the field (25.0%), and 2-for-11 from three-point range (18.2%). Alex Franklin has 10 points for the Saints.
8:46 1st, 26-12 Villanova: The numbers are all going the Wildcats' way -- 10-for-21 from the field, 4-for-5 from three-point range and a 13-8 edge in reobounds.
12:59 1st, 19-5 Villanova: A pretty up-and-under drive by Scottie Reynolds makes it a 14-point lead for the Wildcats, and McCaffery has to call timeout again.
17:34 1st, 5-2 Villanova: Alex Franklin works his way inside to get Siena on the board.
18:08 1st, 5-0 Villanova: Corey Stokes knocks a loose ball away from Kenny Hasbrouck and runs away for a layup. Fran McCaffery has to take an early timeout.
18:24 1st, 3-0 Villanova: A trey by Scottie Reynolds opens the scoring.
G So 25 Ronald Moore (Conshohocken, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh)
G Jr 41 Kenny Hasbrouck
F So 23 Edwin Ubiles
F Jr 12 Josh Duell
F So 42 Alex Franklin (Reading, Pa./Central Catholic)
G Fr 24 Corey Stokes
G S 1 Scottie Reynolds
F Jr 22 Dwayne Anderson
F Fr 0 Antonio Pena
C Jr 33 Dante Cunningham