Villanova has earned at-large bids to the NCAA tournament twice before with 14 losses in 1990 and 1991. It is one of only five teams to do so and the only team to do it twice. It's looking like this season could be the third time if the Wildcats earn a bid at all after a shocking 66-65 loss to Seton Hall.
Life on the NCAA tournament bubble stinks. Villanova thought it had played its way out of that constant worry last week by adding an upset of Marquette to a resume that includes other quality wins in the past five weeks over Syracuse, Louisville and Connecticut.
Even if Villanova lost two of its final three as expected against No. 23 Pittsburgh and No. 7 Georgetown, the thinking was it would be OK as long as it also represents itself well in the Big East tournament. The one thing it couldn't afford was a loss to a Seton Hall team with a nine-game losing streak prior to Monday night.
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Villanova instead allowed that one thing that couldn't happen to happen. The Wildcats surrendered a four-point lead in the final 17 seconds. James Bell was caught in the backcourt and tried to split a pair of Seton Hall defenders when he had his pocket picked.
Tom Maayan collected the loose ball and passed to Fuquan Edwin who drilled a 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds left. Villanova then failed to execute in those remaining seconds and settled for an awkward 3-pointer from Ryan Arcidiacono when a 3-pointer wasn't even needed.
Villanova is now 18-11 overall and 10-7 in the Big East. Assuming the Wildcats lose the final two regular season games, they will be 18-13 heading into the Big East tournament. Any loss there would put them at 14 losses and in need of a sympathetic selection committee.
If Villanova doesn't get in, the loss to Seton Hall (14-15, 3-13) as well as two losses to Providence (15-12, 7-8) and a November loss to Columbia (11-13, 3-7 Ivy League) will be most lamented by the Wildcats.
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