Villanova’s perplexing Big Dance rèsumè
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Team of the week: Villanova
Trick question: How do you beat two top 5 teams in the same week and not make the NCAA tournament. It’s not an easy thing to do. The right recipe includes a mediocre loss to a Providence team twice and a gruesomely-staining loss to Columbia, a team tied for last place in the Ivy League. Look no further than Villanova for this year’s most perplexing NCAA tournament resume. It seems like Villanova is always this inconsistent (having lost five straight games in a Sweet Sixteen finish in 2008) but this season’s ups have been overly high, and the downs vice versa. The Big East is a grueling enough league that the Wildcats (14-9, 5-5 Big East) can slip from an RPI of 49 to an RPI of 73 in one week.
This team needs wins against all the mediocre Big East opponents. Unlike most bubble teams in need of a signature win, Villanova needs has two big ones. But it’s avoiding any more resume stains in can’t-lose games that generally proves to be more dangerous. The player to know on this team is Ryan Arcidiacono, who averages more than 11 points per game and his game-tying three-pointer helped Villanova upset Syracuse.This team would fare well against a mid-major team with 22 wins or more. The NCAA committee seems to always end up pairing a shaky big league team against a small school with Cinderella potential. Odds are it’ll be a Mountain West or Missouri Valley school. Jay Wright’s team lacks a big superstar like it’s had in year’s past, but they’re scrappy enough to beat top teams on their home floor.
Rèsumè worth dissecting: Illinois. It’s déjà vu for the Fighting Illini, who crumbled last season after a 10-0 start. This season after a 12-0 start, this Illinois team that was once a top-10 team has started 2-7 in Big Ten play. Forget the fact that John Groce’s team has no momentum or confidence. At 15-8 and with an RPI of 48, Illinois is officially a bubble team. Fired coach Bruce Weber, meanwhile, has led … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Villanova's perplexing Big Dance rèsumè, click here.]