Villanova ended their regular season on a sour note, losing their fourth-straight game to Pittsburgh, 60-50. They finished 10th in the Big East and now find themselves in the unanticipated position of having to play in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Tuesday. The Wildcats have also fallen out of the Top-25 for the first time this season. I hate to make excuses, but-- wait that’s not true, I love making excuses. Here they are:
Corey Stokes was unavailable for three of Villanova’s losses, including the end of the Rutgers collapse that started this whole mess. Both of Villanova’s losses to Pitt, the Big East’s number one team, were close despite Stokes’ absence. If Stokes was healthy, I think Nova could have at least beaten the Panthers at the Pavilion and who knows what else.
Stokes is vital to this team’s success; however, the knee tendinitis that Corey Fisher has been battling for the past month or so is a more alarming injury. Even though it hasn’t caused him to miss any games, it certainly has effected Fisher’s play. I assumed he was simply going through a bad shooting slump, but an injury makes more sense. Fisher is too good to be having multiple 0-8 games from behind the arc. In hindsight it may have been a better idea for him to sit for a few of those games, but let’s just hope he’s healthy enough going forward.
2. The whole season counts.
We've seen how good this team can be. Don’t forget Villanova had an 11-game winning streak this season, as well as wins over UCLA, Temple, Louisville, Maryland, and Syracuse. Nova should still be a safe bet for the Big Dance, and as long as your at the party, anything can happen on the dance floor.
3. Brutal Schedule
Yeah, four straight losses sounds horrible on paper, but all four were against teams ranked in the Top-25. Meanwhile, teams like BYU and San Diego State go through most of their season without playing any ranked teams besides each other. Aside from that first half against Notre Dame, which I have erased from my memory, Nova has been in every single game this season, which should count for something.
4. One win is all you need...
As DePaul nearly proved, no win is guaranteed in the Big East, but let’s just say Villanova has a good shot at ending their losing streak against the 3-15 Bulls of South Florida. Losing four games in a row can destroy a team’s confidence, but even just one win before the NCAA Tournament might be enough to restore it.
5. Jay Wright’s Secret Weapon
No, not Maalik Wayns (27 points (6-12 3PT vs. Pitt), I’m talking about the Siberian tigers Jay Wright stole from the Philadelphia Zoo. Tiger blood might be just the thing this team needs to start WINNING again.