By JOHN HEALEY
Unlike last season, the question hanging over Nova Nation heading into Selection Sunday this year was not whether the Wildcats would qualify for the field of 68–it was whether they would earn a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed.
That question was answered earlier tonight when the Selection Committee designated Villanova as the No. 2 seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament.
The Cats are slotted to play the No. 15 seed and Horizon League champion Milwaukee Panthers on Thursday, March 20th in the second round (Round of 64) of the tournament. The Panthers hold a 21-13 overall record (7-9 in conference play) and would not be in the field without the automatic bid they captured by winning their conference tournament.
ACC Tournament champion Virginia locked up the No. 1 seed in the East region–the spot that looked to be reserved for Villanova before its Big East Tournament debacle on Thursday. Following the Cavaliers and the Wildcats with the Nos. 3-8 seeds in this region are Iowa State, Michigan State, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Memphis.
It’s also worth noting the No. 10 seed in Villanova’s bracket: Big 5 rival St. Joe’s. If the Cats take care of business against Milwaukee and the Hawks upset No. 7 Connecticut, we’ll have a Holy War rematch next Saturday in the Round of 32. In addition, if they advance to the Sweet 16, the Wildcats could face No. 6 North Carolina for a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament second-round matchup.
The last time the Cats entered the Big Dance as a No. 2 seed was 2010, when they underachieved their way to a second-round loss against St. Mary’s. Villanova is 0-2 in the Tournament since then, and will look to channel some of its 2009 March Madness magic starting this Thursday in Buffalo.
Stay tuned to Philahoops for coverage of Villanova throughout the NCAA Tournament.