The Villanova Wildcats were rewarded by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Committee. The Big East regular season and tournament champions were selected to be the number one seed in the East Region of the tournament. The Wildcats face the Lafayette Leopards, the 16 seed, in the second round on Thursday on Pittsburgh.
“A number one seed is a great honor is college basketball,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Everybody fights for it, it’s prestigious, and after you have to go out and play great teams. We’re proud.”
Lafayette, the Patriot League Tournament winner, is no stranger to Villanova. Leopards coach Fran O’Hanlon is a Villanova graduate and a former player. The teams have faced each other in the past, the last time in 2013 at the Pavilion. Villanova won 75 – 59.
Each coach has enormous respect for one another.
“O’Hanlon is one of the all-time Villanova greats,” Wright said about his coaching opponent in the opening game. “Earlier this week Fran and I texted each other. I congratulated him, and he wished me good luck in the Big East Tournament. I said I hope we don’t play each other, and he said me too. They’re a great team and will be a nightmare to play.”
The match up will be interesting as Villanova had two close games against Patriot League representatives Lehigh and Bucknell this season. Those games were two of the Wildcats closest wins. Those game should help the Wildcats focus on the task at hand.
“They’re (Patriot League teams) are really tough, well coached, and come ready to play,” said guard Ryan Arcidiacono. “We had a couple of tough games against Bucknell and Lehigh so we have to be ready.”
It is one and done now. No room for mistakes. Nova knows that.
“This is the NCAA Tournament and you can’t take anybody lightly,” said guard Darrun Hilliard. “You can’t take any team for granted because you can get beat at any time. Lafayette is a great team and they can come out and beat us if we don’t play our best basketball.”
Virginia earned the 2 seed in the region followed by in order; Oklahoma, Louisville, Norther Iowa, Providence, Michigan State, NC State, LSU, Georgia, Boise State/Dayton winner, Wyoming, UC Irvine, Albany, and Belmont. Should the Wildcats advance, they would play the winner of the NC State -LSU game. The regional will be played in Syracuse.
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The Temple Owls were not selected to be in the NCAA Tournament. The Owls did earn a number one seed in the NIT, and will host Bucknell in the first round.