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Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/12/2008 03:07:00 PM

Could 'Nova Be This Year's Syracuse?

Madison Square Garden
Luke Winn/SI

NEW YORK -- As the first game of the Big East tournament neared its end -- a snoozer befitting of its noon start time -- a fan in Villanova's student section hoisted one of those ubiquitous acronym signs that read, "No Cuse At-large Anymore." That much was clear. After losing 82-63 to 'Nova, Syracuse will be on the outside looking in at the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. Even Jim Boeheim, the perennial coach on the bubble, was resigned to his bubble having burst in 2008, saying afterwards, "We probably needed to win 2-3 games to get even close to where we were last year [when they were snubbed on Selection Sunday]. I don't think one win would have been enough by any stretch of the imagination."

But what of the Wildcats? Are they now safe? Their fans had no complementary sign that expressed confidence in 'Nova's own NCAA tournament footing ("Now 'Cats Are Assured" would have worked). There was, however, someone holding a t-shirt that said Don't Stop Believin' -- and that, perhaps, is the best 'Nova can do at this point. Beating Georgetown tomorrow would secure the 'Cats a place in the dance. One-and-done here and they're in very much the same position that Syracuse was last season, setting themselves up for heartbreak at the hands of the selection committee.

While the nature of the bubble may change every season, the following comparison should scare 'Nova fans: In nearly every key category, this year's 'Cats have a worse resume than the Orange did when they were snubbed in '07.
Team            RPI    SOS   NC-SOS   W-L      BE W-L   T50   
Syracuse '07 50 46 122 22-10 10-6 3-6
Villanova '08 57 56 164 20-11 9-9 5-6
Wins over NCAA tournament-bound teams:
Syracuse '07 (5): Penn, Holy Cross, Marquette, Villanova, Georgetown
Villanova '08 (4): George Mason, Pitt, West Virginia, UConn

In his latest Bubble Watch, SI.com's Stewart Mandel has Villanova in the "bubble in" section, citing its five wins over top-50 competition as its main selling point to the committee. But if the 'Cats do lose to Georgetown tomorrow, they'd best set to work on creating a slick package to send to the selection committee, the centerpiece being footage of the blown calls that cost them a win against N.C. State (in Orlando on Nov. 25) and a trip to overtime against Georgetown (in D.C. on Feb. 11). The committee has consistently stated that it's willing to consider extra information like this in its deliberations on the bracket. How much weight it's willing to put into poor refereeing may ultimately decide Villanova's fate.

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