Villanova has felt as much a staple of March Madness as any team in college basketball in recent years.
Between 2005 and 2022, the only year Villanova’s men’s basketball team didn’t dance was 2012. Otherwise, Villanova has been a regular. The Wildcats not only were regulars, but have been dominant, with a pair of titles under Jay Wright, four Final Four appearances, five Elite Eight trips, eight Sweet 16 trips and first-round wins in all but three tournaments.
But Wright is gone, having retired after the 2022 season, and Kyle Neptune’s first season as head coach at Villanova hasn’t exactly followed the Wright script. The Wildcats find themselves in danger of missing the tournament for the first time since 2012.
How is Villanova looking as Selection Sunday starts to come into focus at the end of the week? Here’s what you need to know about the Wildcats.
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Villanova and the Big East Tournament
The Big East is always one of the most difficult conference tournaments, and Villanova will have its work cut out for it early. The Wildcats earned a No. 6 seed in the field, and will face No. 11 seed Georgetown in the first round.
From there, the road gets more challenging. Next up would be a battle against No. 3 seed Creighton and then a semifinal matchup could mean playing one of No. 2 Xavier, No. 7 Seton Hall or No. 10 DePaul. The championship could then be against any of No. 1 Marquette, No. 4 UConn, No. 5 Providence, No. 8 St. John’s or No. 9 Butler.
The Wildcats have had mixed success in the conference this season, with an even 10-10 record. They swept Georgetown, Seton Hall and St. John’s, but were swept by Marquette, UConn and Providence, and split series with Xavier, Creighton and DePaul.
Win the Big East Tournament, and Villanova is back to dancing. But that will be easier said than done.
Villanova’s strength of victory
Villanova has taken care of business against weaker opponents. The Wildcats are a sterling 10-2 in games against Quad 3 and 4 teams. It’s the better teams that have given them fits.
Against Quad 1 foes, Villanova has gone just 3-10. Its best wins came back on Feb. 21, when it defeated Xavier 64-63, and Feb. 25, when it beat Creighton 79-67. The win against the Musketeers was on the road, while the win against the Bluejays was at home.
Villanova’s weak spots
The Wildcats have held their own in losses, but the inability to pick up wins against the top teams in the conference will undoubtedly come back to hurt Villanova’s chances of reaching the tournament. It lost by a combined 11 points in the two games to Marquette, but lost by eight and 12 points in its defeats to UConn.
The ugliest loss on Villanova’s resume is likely its 83-71 defeat to Portland, which has a 12-19 record so far this season, though the 10-point loss to DePaul is a blemish on its conference record.
Villanova’s KenPom, RPI, SOS and quadrants
Will Villanova make the NCAA Tournament?
It is likely that Villanova’s only shot at this point of making the tournament is to win the Big East tournament and receive the automatic spot. The Wildcats had plenty of opportunities to bolster their resume in a strong conference, but outside the wins against Xavier and Creighton, they largely struggled against top competition.
With a 16-15 overall record and a poor showing against Quad 1 teams this year, Villanova’s NCAA Tournament hopes hinge on a strong showing in the conference tournament.