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SPORTS
March 19, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
When they saw Wisconsin-Milwaukee appear in the bracket opposite Villanova for their opening game of the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats never had seen the Panthers compete and didn't know one thing about their personnel or style of play. However, after a full day of meetings and film study Monday with coach/professor Jay Wright, the 'Nova players have more than a passing knowledge of their second-round East Regional opponent Thursday night in Buffalo. Wright is confident that he has the players' undivided attention, with a reluctant thank-you to Seton Hall, conqueror of the Wildcats (28-4)
SPORTS
March 19, 2014 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
Jay Wright has done this long enough that the truths about the NCAA tournament are no longer mysteries that need to be unwrapped. Seasons come and seasons go, but what it takes to advance deep into the national championship tournament remains the same. "First, you have to play well. Period. After that, it's matchups," Wright said as the No. 2-seeded Wildcats prepared for a Thursday opener against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Matching up well against the opponents that fall into your path is where luck enters the equation.
SPORTS
March 19, 2014 | By Sam Donnellon, Daily News Staff Writer
'THERE WAS a stretch of time after Jameer that I didn't like myself," Phil Martelli was saying in his office late yesterday afternoon. An endorphin-absorbed Sunday that had spilled into a foodless evening and then a sleepless night had morphed the coach into the kind of truth-spilling interviewee that detectives only dream about. He was happy one moment, pensive the next, even a bit sad after that. He was exhausted mostly, but not in the way he has spent too much of the time between the time Jameer Nelson finished and now being exhausted.
SPORTS
March 19, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
JOHN GIANNINI noticed the difference immediately. It was that striking. His La Salle team, with almost everything back from an unexpected Sweet 16 run, went to Villanova on Dec. 15. The Explorers lost by 21. And he knew why. "I think those guys had the best offseason in the country," Giannini reiterated yesterday at the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tourney Tip-Off Breakfast at the Palestra. "I know they rave about their strength coach [second-year man John Shackleton]. I know they rave about their kids and their work ethic, and their leadership.
SPORTS
March 18, 2014 | BY TOM MAHON, Daily News Staff Writer mahont@phillynews.com
JIM MURRAY is having a good week. Yesterday, he was grandest marshal you ever saw at Philly's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. And on Thursday, his beloved Villanova will play its opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed. The former Eagles general manager was positively beaming as he made his way up a sun-splashed Benjamin Franklin Parkway yesterday. Not bad for a guy who attended Our Mother of Sorrows Parish grade school, West Catholic High and Villanova.
SPORTS
March 18, 2014 | BY DICK JERARDI, Daily News Staff Writer jerardd@phillynews.com
THE TEXT arrived in the middle of the night on Dec. 8, 2013, reminding Phil Martelli of a game that took place on Feb. 4, 2008, at the Palestra. The Saint Joseph's coach was just a few hours removed from his team getting crushed on its homecourt by archrival Villanova, 98-68, dropping the Hawks' record to 4-4. It was the kind of defeat that can ruin a season, overwhelm a coaching staff and destroy player confidence. The author of the text reminded Martelli of that night when St. Joe's had crushed Villanova, 77-55, in 2008.
SPORTS
March 18, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
EXPECTATIONS. They can work both ways. Villanova didn't start the season with many. That's what happens when you're picked to finish fourth in a reconstructed Big East, and aren't ranked. So getting back to the NCAA Tournament and winning a game for the first time in 4 years probably seemed like a reasonable enough objective, at least to outsiders. Then the Wildcats went 28-4, which was three more regular-season wins than they'd ever had, and got to No. 3 in the nation. And the perspective turned understandably different.
SPORTS
March 18, 2014 | BY MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
VILLANOVA has known it was going to be in the NCAA Tournament since about Thanksgiving. And for the last month or so, it was apparent the Wildcats were headed to Buffalo, N.Y., for their first game. The only thing missing was the opening opponent, and the rest of the bracket. Yesterday, those details finally became official. And it was the possible second matchup that got way more attention. No, it wasn't Creighton. The Wildcats (28-4), coming off a quarterfinal loss to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament, are seeded second in the East Regional.
SPORTS
March 18, 2014 | By Ed Barkowitz, Daily News Staff Writer
PUTTING VILLANOVA and Saint Joseph's anywhere together can often be a dicey proposition. They don't call their rivalry the "Holy War" for nothing. But the selection committee found a place where the two will have to coexist. They are going to Buffalo and would meet in the third round Saturday, if they get past their first opponents. "I swear, I really think there are so many connections [among teams]," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I do think it's random. " St. Joe's plays Connecticut.
SPORTS
March 18, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
A roar of disappointment and disgust went up Sunday from friends and alumni crowded into the Connelly Center's multipurpose room when "Virginia" went up on the No. 1 seed line in the East Regional instead of Villanova. But the Wildcats players and coaches were just fine with being the region's No. 2 seed, good for a matchup against Horizon League tournament champion University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday in Buffalo. "I thought a No. 1 seed was possible, but I understood we weren't going to get it because we lost in the quarterfinals of the Big East" tournament, senior guard Tony Chennault said.
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