The Villanova Wildcats are enjoying their second solid season in a row. A 19-2 start has them ranked No. 7 in the country. But can this team go further than it has during its last four tournament appearances?
It is a fact. The Wildcats have overwhelmingly under-performed in the NCAA Tournament their last four appearances. Villanova has a record of 95-39 during the years it has made its last four appearances. In the Wildcats’ last four tournament games, they have a record of 2-4.
While their offense averaged nearly 75 points per game per season over the four tournament appearances, they averaged just 67.8 points per game over the six tournament games.
This season, Villanova beat VCU by 24 points and Michigan, even though Michigan hasn’t been very good, earlier this season. The Wildcats have beaten Butler (at home) and thumped St. John’s (at St. John’s), but then lost on the road to Seton Hall, albeit in overtime. A couple of weeks ago, Georgetown ran over Villanova by 20 points, during a stretch in which Georgetown was trying to find itself.
That’s cause for at least some concern.
The Big East isn’t what it used to be. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are gone. Marquette and Creighton are down, and the rest of the conference just isn’t very good.
For that reason, I don’t put a lot of stock into Villanova’s victories this season. If you were to look at Villanova’s numbers, you would see that it ranks among the better teams in the country. However, a lot of those numbers are inflated because the Wildcats aren’t playing the strongest competition.
The Big East Conference has a total of 142 wins. That ranks the Big East eighth out of 33 conferences in total wins, behind all Power 5 Conferences, and behind the A-10 and Conference USA conferences.
One thing Villanova does have is balance. Six players on the roster average between 13.3 and 9.6 points per game and it nearly has four players averaging double-figures. Darrun Hilliard leads the Wildcats in scoring and Daniel Ochefu leads them in rebounding (8.5 per game).
Eight players have played in at least 20 games this season and the minutes played per game range from 13.8 to 30.6.
My bet is if Villanova keeps winning, which it should, it will end up with no lower than a No. 3 seed, and probably a No. 2 seed.
I think this is a team that can get past its first opponent and maybe its second opponent, but I can’t trust the Wildcats to go any further than the Sweet 16. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Wildcats ended up getting knocked off in their first game. No. 2 and 3 seeds always go down the first two days of the tournament.