Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tuesdays in New York are nice

It wasn't long ago that Villanova had a shot at receiving a two-day bye in the Big East tournament, an achievement that would have put the Wildcats into Thursday's quarterfinals after eight teams already had been eliminated.

Tuesdays in New York are nice

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Villanova fell to St. John´s on Saturday after losing to Syracuse on Monday. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Villanova fell to St. John's on Saturday after losing to Syracuse on Monday. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

It wasn't long ago that Villanova had a shot at receiving a two-day bye in the Big East tournament, an achievement that would have put the Wildcats into Thursday's quarterfinals after eight teams already had been eliminated.

But with four losses in their last six games, the Wildcats now are looking at playing on the opening day of the five-day tournament, with a real chance at finishing outside of the top eight in the final conference standings.

The Wildcats lost their second game of the week at the Wells Fargo Center, dropping an 81-68 decision to St. John's. That dropped Villanova to 9-7 in the Big East, and they are one of five teams with seven losses in the league heading into Sunday's action.

As the standings read right now, Georgetown is seventh at 10-7, followed by 'Nova. Connecticut, West Virginia and Marquette are tied for ninth at 8-7, with all three teams in action on Sunday.

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After Sunday's action, every team in the league will have two games remaining in the regular season, which ends next Saturday, except Syracuse and Georgetown. The Orange and the Hoyas have one game left to play.

You want tiebreakers? We'll get into that in a later post when we can figure out what happens. We know in a two-team tiebreaker, the edge goes to the head-to-head winner, with the second tiebreaker going to the team that defeated the highest-ranked team in the final standings.

But a four-way or a five-way tie? Pass the Excedrin.

Jay Wright said he's not worried at the moment about getting or not getting a bye.

"You want to get it," the Villanova coach said, "but we don't talk about it, we don't set it as a goal because we really try to concentrate on the next game. The rest is good and it's one less battle of physically getting beat up for that tournament, and if you're fortunate to play in post-season."

The Wildcats are still secure of getting to the NCAA tournament, but their seed is dropping. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said they were the last No. 4 seed in the bracket that was up before Saturday's game, and they are certain to fall at least one notch.

With two games remaining, both on the road, against Notre Dame (Monday night) and Pittsburgh (next Saturday), 'Nova's RPI doesn't figure to slip very much, but the NCAAs are getting more challenging with every loss.

But first things first. The Wildcats have to get at least one win in the final two games to have a shot at a bye. The way they've been playing, even their most ardent fans can't be too optimistic. But Wright is staying positive.

"All we can do is concentrate on 'next game,'" Wright said. "It’s an opportunity. We’re playing a Top 10 team. We’ve lost to some good teams. The good thing about the Big East is that you get a chance to play the good teams. You get a chance to beat them and that’s what we’ve got to do, and that’s the way we’re going to do it.

“As long as we’re getting a little bit better in certain areas … I would like us to be playing better right now, obviously. But I do see little improvement but I’d like to see us get more in these next two games, win or lose, as long as we keep playing better. We can beat anybody and we can lose to anybody."

Hopefully, Wright and the Wildcats will get Corey Fisher untracked. In two games since his outstanding 34-point performance in the overtime win at DePaul, Fisher is 4 of 26 from the field and 0 for 16 from three-point range. He scored two points Saturday, but led all players with seven assists.

The Wildcats need Fisher. They have failed to score 70 points in regulation time for five straight games. When they score 70 in regulation, they are 16-1, and add another win for their 77-point overtime output against DePaul.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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About this blog
Joe Juliano first visited the Palestra in 1970 after entering Temple University and became hooked for life on Big Five basketball. He'll always go with that name, figuring if the Big Ten can have 12 teams, why can't the Big Five have six?

Juliano joined the Inquirer in 1985 after 10 years at United Press International and has covered college sports for most of that time. His current beats are Villanova basketball, Penn State football, golf and the Penn Relays. Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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