Mar 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard James Bell (32) is fouled by Louisville Cardinals guard/forward Wayne Blackshear (20) during the first half of a quarterfinal game during the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Bracketology: Are the Villanova Wildcats Really an NCAA Tournament Team?

Think you have what it takes to hash out a fair 68-team bracket? Convinced the Selection Committee has it easy? Find out for yourself as Busting Brackets invites you into the selection room for a simulated look at the challenges confronting the ten-member panel on a daily basis. Next up on the docket: collating bubble teams.

Behold Villanova, one of college basketball’s most mercurial teams.

Picked 12th in the preseason Big East coaches’ poll in light of a 14th-place finish last season, Jay Wright’s resurgent team has soared — quite unexpectedly — into the crosshairs of the bubble conversation. The early departures of Dominic Cheek, a three-year underachiever at guard, and flow-quelling gunner Maalik Wayns have worked to the program’s benefit.

Jayvaughn Pinkston has markedly improved his offensive repertoire, while fellow sophomore Darrun Hillard has emerged into a semi-reliable, particularly streaky third scoring option. Instant contributions from freshman combo guard Ryan Arcidiacono, whom Wright credits for sparking the program’s revival, has added a stabilizing presence at point and brought a fiery energy to a team that lacked competitive spirit before he arrived.

Above all, Villanova is doing something it didn’t last year: playing hard-nosed defense. The Cats wield one of the nation’s 30 most efficient defenses, as measured by Ken Pomery’s efficiency ratings system. The 2011-12 team finished outside of the Top 100.

Villanova’s resume is strewn with conflicting qualifications — some reflective of a sure-fire NCAA tournament team, others of a garden variety NIT squad. The Wildcats own wins over four of the top five teams in the Big East and took the fifth (Pittsburgh) to overtime on the road. In all, Wright’s team has knocked off three Top 5 teams at the time the games were played.  The snag? All three wins were at home, and one of the Top 5 victims (Louisville) avenged its earlier defeat on Thursday by pasting Nova in the Big East tournament quarterfinals

While the Wildcats do own an impressive collection of wins, they haven’t beaten a single tournament-bound team away from home. Their lone quality win outside of Philly (Connecticut) stumbled down the stretch and is ineligible for the postseason anyway. Villanova totes just two wins against the RPI Top 100 on neutral courts or in true road environments, a red flag considering the Cats wouldn’t get to play any tournament games in the Pavilion or Wells Fargo Center. Against the six bona fide NCAA tournament teams it played away from home, Villanova dropped all six by an average of 11.3 points per game.

Weighing both cases for and against their NCAAT inclusion, are the Cats deserving of an at-large invitation? View their portfolio below, then decide yourself. The arrows in the right-hand column represent how Nova stacks up with other bubble teams in each criterion. The upward arrow signifies “better than the average bubble team,” the downward arrow denotes worse and the lateral two-way arrow suggests Villanova is about on par with the field.


Overall Record


Conference Record


Conference RPI Rank


Team RPI


Strength of Schedule


Non-Conference SOS








Record vs. RPI Top 25


Record vs. RPI Top 50


Record vs. RPI Top 100


Last 10 Games


Best Win

vs. Louisville (Home)

Worst Loss

vs. Columbia (Home)


Is Villanova deserving of an NCAA tournament at-large bid?

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