Figuring 'Nova's fate simpler with loss

Trying to figure out the Big East's tiebreakers has been a challenging task for everyone, particularly if you're a Villanova fan.

Well, thanks to a clarification from the Big East office, and from one kind person who pointed it out in the "comments" section of the previous SuperNova item, the Wildcats' fate is pretty cut and dried -- should they lose to Pitt in Saturday's regular-season finale.

Villanova enters the weekend in a three-way tie for ninth with Connecticut and Marquette. If you take away those three teams from the standings and place them in their own mini-conference to figure out the first tiebreaker, you'll find that Connecticut is 2-1, Villanova 1-1 and Marquette 1-2.

I thought the fact that Villanova did not have the chance to tie UConn with a third game wiped this tiebreaker out. And that was an incorrect interpretation on my part.

Connecticut's 2-1 record stands as the best in the mini-conference. So should the Wildcats lose at Pitt, even if UConn loses, the Huskies will be the No. 9 seed. At 9-9, the Wildcats would be 10th if Marquette loses to Seton Hall later in the day, or they'll be 11th if the Golden Eagles win.

So it's safe to figure now that a 'Nova loss means it will be playing either at 7 or 9:30 p.m. in the first round on Tuesday night.

Things would be a lot more complicated if the Wildcats win, a result that would give them a 10-8 record. As many as five teams could finish 10-8 if the stars align correctly, but only two of them would get a first-round bye.

Only four seeds in the 16-team conference have been set for the five-day Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. Louisville is No. 3, Seton Hall is 12th, Rutgers comes in at 13th and DePaul winds up 16th.

As it looks now, Pitt, Notre Dame and Louisville are assured of two-round byes directly into the quarterfinals. Syracuse would get the fourth such bye if it can get past DePaul. But if the Orange lose and St. John's defeats South Florida, the Red Storm get the fourth bye.

The winner of Saturday's Georgetown-Cincinnati game is assured a first-round bye. It will join Syracuse or St. John's, and two lucky teams from Saturday's action that will advance directly to Wednesday's second round.

It's impossible at the moment to figure out where Villanova lands in seeding position should the Wildcats win. But Nova Nation would be more than happy to try to figure it out.

Talk to you after the game.

--Joe Juliano