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Villanova, La Salle put Philly back on NCAA map
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On January 27, 2013 @ 9:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
Teams from the city of Philadelphia had conspicuously been absent from NCAA tournament discussion in college men’s basketball this season.
None of the Big 5 schools — Villanova, Saint Joseph’s, Temple, La Salle and Penn — had put together a rèsumè worthy of an at-large bid, and only a couple had even merited bubble talk — until this past week.
Unranked Villanova gave its fans two reasons to rush the court; it defeated No. 5 Louisville on Tuesday night, and the Wildcats followed that with a win Saturday against No. 3 Syracuse.
Across town, more fans stormed the floor as unranked La Salle beat No. 9 Butler on Wednesday. Then, behind Ramon Galloway’s 31 points, the Explorers won Saturday at No. 16 Virginia Commonwealth, 69-61. It was the first time in 60 years that La Salle beat ranked teams in consecutive games.
“The biggest reason they’re really important wins is they really help your NCAA chances,” La Salle coach John Giannini said Sunday. “That’s the goal of every team in the country. To beat two top-20 teams carries a lot of weight.
“It’s also important in terms of perception.”
Think the NCAA tournament field will be without a Big 5 team for the first time since 1977? Better think again.
Two wins against ranked opponents is not all it takes to get a team into the tournament; Villanova (13-7, 4-3 Big East) and La Salle (14-5, 4-2 Atlantic 10) each still have a loss to a team outside the RPI top-200 — Columbia and Central Connecticut State, respectively. Attempting to cancel out bad losses, however, is a significant step toward making the field of 68. The Explorers have not appeared in the NCAA tournament since 1992.
In the wake of their big week, the Wildcats’ RPI has improved to 51, and La Salle’s has jumped to 33, according to RPIForecast.com.
Don’t count Philly teams out just yet, but don’t assume they’re in the tournament either. Plenty of tough Big East foes remain for Villanova, and the rest of the unpredictable and talented Atlantic 10 awaits La Salle.
“The thing (winning) doesn’t help is for you to win the … [For more on Villanova, La Salle put Philly back on NCAA map, click here.]
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