Earlier in the week, Jay Wright said he is so fond of the Big East tournament, playing its final iteration before the great religious schism, that part of him would rather win the conference tournament than the NCAA championship.
That, of course, would be the part of him not being entirely honest. Emotion is one thing, but let's be serious.
So, Villanova got what it wanted out of the Big East tournament. It avoided the opening upset that might have been the only thing that could have derailed the Wildcats, and then got through a forgettable loss to Louisville without getting anyone hurt.
There were no surprises, except perhaps how it is possible for a team to turn the ball over 42 times in two games and still get a win out of the deal.
Regardless, now the Wildcats get a few days to rest and recharge before getting their travel plans on Sunday evening. They said goodbye to the last true Big East tournament after two games, and left New York without playing a third for the ninth consecutive year. Maybe that's not good, but it was good enough this time to get Villanova where it wanted to go.
Against Louisville, the Wildcats again displayed their chronic turnover habit as they gave it away 25 times in the 74-55 loss to the Cardinals. That's four times in their last five games that the Wildcats have committed at least 17 turnovers, something that will kill a team eventually, and Villanova is now one bad game from the end of its season.
In tournament play, the defenses get tougher to fight through because the officials let the players decide the games. Villanova had better adjust quickly, and that doesn't mean trying to dribble through traps as the Wildcats did Thursday against the quick Louisville players.
"It's who we are," coach Jay Wright said. "We don't have a jet guard who is going to break down a defense. And when you don't have that guy, you have to execute. We didn't do it today."
In the first half, Villanova was able to stay relatively close to Louisville despite committing 18 of the turnovers, including two separate stretches of turnovers on five straight possessions.
Every time the Cardinals were able to string together a basket or two - and that wasn't too often, either - the Wildcats were forced to inbound the ball against a set pressing defense. They didn't get the ball in play a whole lot without some sort of adventure.
According to coach Rick Pitino, the Cardinals keep statistics on the number of balls deflected by their defense. Getting 40 deflections is a very good game. Against Villanova, led by backcourt starters Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, Louisville had 58 deflections.
"I've never seen that in my 80 years of coaching," Pitino said.
Villanova was still within nine points of the lead at halftime, but because Louisville does have the jets, it was impossible for the Wildcats to try to press their way back into the game. They had to hope that the Cardinals went cold, and exactly the opposite happened. Louisville shot 54 percent from the field in the second half and had a comfortable lead for the last 16 minutes of the game.
A team that gives the ball away 25 times doesn't deserve to stay in a basketball game, and Villanova better solve that problem very quickly. As Wright suggested, it is somewhat the nature of his team. If the Wildcats can't be a better team, they at least have to play better.
After a regular season in which the Wildcats had wins over Louisville, Syracuse, and Georgetown, the Thursday loss was unusual for the giant killers. It was Villanova's most lopsided defeat since a 22-point loss to Alabama on Nov. 18.
"This one we've got to swallow. But it's tough to take," Wright said. "We've played well against good teams, and it stings that we didn't perform tonight. I'm not as disappointed in the loss as I am in our performance in the first half."
That's what it takes at this time of year, one bad half and the bus is waiting. And if he thinks this loss stung, the next one will be worse.
Contact Bob Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns. Follow on Twitter @bobfordsports.