Villanova hopes to boost Big East seeding with win over Pitt

Villanova's Isaiah Armwood battling Pitt's Brad Wanamaker. A loss would force the Cats to play a first-round game Tuesday.
Villanova's Isaiah Armwood battling Pitt's Brad Wanamaker. A loss would force the Cats to play a first-round game Tuesday.
Posted: March 05, 2011

Four Big East teams enter the final day of the regular season Saturday knowing their seeding for next week's conference tournament at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Villanova? Not so lucky.

Because of the incredible logjam in the middle of the Big East standings - one game separates fourth place from eighth place, and sixth place from 11th place - there is no way of knowing where the Wildcats will wind up as they enter Saturday's game at No. 4 Pittsburgh.

This much is known: A Villanova loss will force the Wildcats (21-9, 9-8 Big East) into a first-round tournament game on Tuesday, either at 7 or 9:30 p.m. Applying the conference tiebreakers, the Cats are 10th in the seeding order, behind Connecticut and ahead of Marquette, the teams that also are 9-8.

A win over the Panthers (26-4, 14-3) would give Villanova a shot at a first-round bye but in essence, it will be five teams battling for two free passes into the second round. There are dozens of possibilities should the Wildcats gain a 10th conference win.

However, should they finish 9-9, the Cats' fate would depend only on one other team, Marquette, which plays at Seton Hall. A Golden Eagles win would drop 'Nova to 11th, but a loss would give the Wildcats the 10th seed.

Even if Connecticut loses Saturday at home to Notre Dame and drops to 9-9, the Huskies will own the tiebreaker in both a two-way and three-way tie with the Cats.

You know that 'Nova coach Jay Wright has not discussed all the possibilities with his team this week. He has focused solely on getting the Cats out of their funk; they have lost three consecutive games and five of their last seven.

He also has tried to restrict Corey Fisher, the team's leading scorer with a 15.7-point average, from too much practice during the week. Fisher underwent an MRI Wednesday that revealed tendinitis in his right knee, but he is expected to start against the Panthers.

The Wildcats need to get off to a better start Saturday. In their last three games, they have fallen behind, 13-7, to Syracuse; 18-4, to St. John's; and 14-4, to Notre Dame in the early stages. They came back to battle the Orange and the Red Storm but weren't competitive against the Fighting Irish, losing, 93-72.


Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.

 

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