How can a team, with recent Final Four pedigree and only three losses fly under the radar? That’s exactly what’s happened to Villanova. The Wildcats have quietly put together a great season, which has them in position to possibly be a No. 1 seed.
Villanova doesn’t have the star power of a Kansas or Duke, but that’s fine with them. The Wildcats are still going to attack you. As usual, the guard heavy Wildcats use their quickness to force turnovers and get out in transition. In halfcourt sets, they move the ball and space the floor extremely well.
Coach Jay Wright has had teams with more star power and that have been held in higher regard, but he might have his best chance to win a national championship this season. No one saw that coming.
MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: MEAC officials have to be praying that the tournament gets it right this season. North Carolina-Central is by far the best team in this league and has the non-conference win over NC State to drive that point home even further. This tournament won’t be a cakewalk as it’s in Tidewater, Va. where Hampton and Norfolk St will have huge contingent of fans. Despite that, this Central team is too talented and they’re going dancing.
MID-AMERICAN: This is a tough one to call. There are five teams with a legitimate shot to win this thing. The MAC was competitive once again with Western Michigan and Toledo tying for the league title. Western Michigan won the tiebreaker, but no favors were done as they’re staring down Akron or Ohio in the semifinal – both of whom will have plenty of supporters this week in Cleveland. For that reason, I think Toledo will be able to sneak to the dance from the other side of the bracket.
CONFERENCE-USA: This is another tough one. Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Tulsa and Middle Tennessee St finished in a four-way tie for first. UTEP, the team that finished one game behind those four, has the honor of hosting the tournament. The crowd in the Haskins center is sure to be raucous and will make tough for any opponent the Miners face. UTEP will make its way back to the NCAA tournament.
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: The NCAA has come down hard on the SWAC as four teams, Grambling State, Mississippi Valley State, Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, are ineligible for the NCAA because academic progress penalties. The decision came down late and the SWAC is going to let all four teams participate in the conference tournament. How the conference will decide the automatic bid is too convoluted so I’ll just go with Alabama St.
On to the bracket.
Last Four In: Minnesota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Saint Joseph’s
Last Four Out: California, Pitt, Georgetown, St. John’s
1.Florida16.Stony Brook Orlando
6.New Mexico11.Iowa Buffalo
7.VCU10.Stanford St. Louis
1.Villanova16.Wofford/Alabama St Buffalo
8.Kansas St9.Arizona St
5.Saint Louis12.Tennessee/Minnesota San Antonio
6.UCLA11.Saint Joseph’s/Arkansas Milwaukee
1.Arizona16.Weber St San Diego
5.Ohio St12.Louisiana Tech San Diego
4.North Carolina13.Stephen F. Austin
3.San Diego St14.UC-Irvine
1.Wichita St(MVC)16.Coastal Carolina(BSouth)/Wright St St. Louis
5.Michigan St12.Western Michigan Spokane
4.Oklahoma13.North Dakota St
6.Texas11.Xavier San Antonio