AP Poll

Villanova's magic number heading into Big East Tourney

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Villanova's magic number heading into Big East Tourney

There seems to be a magic number surrounding Villanova heading into this week's Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Jay Wright's Wildcats (27-4 overall) are the No. 2 seed for the tourney in the Big Apple as No. 1 seed Xavier (also 27-4 overall) over owns a better conference record, 15-3 to Villanova's 14-4.

But the 'Cats hold the advantage in the AP poll this week as they're back up to No. 2.

After topping both Seton Hall and Georgetown to close the regular season last week, the Wildcats moved up two spots, just behind unanimous No. 1 Virginia.

Xavier, which Villanova beat twice this season, is No. 3. Michigan State and Duke rounded out the top five this week.

The fact of the matter is, the AP rankings are thrown out the window this week. The Big East Tourney seeds aren't the biggest deal in the world, either, because at the 2-seed, Villanova and still can't meet Xavier until the tournament final on Saturday. Villanova on Thursday at 7 p.m. will get the winner of Wednesday's Marquette-DePaul game. If the Wildcats were to advance from there, they would get the winner of Seton Hall-Butler before potentially seeing Xavier in the final.

But the only rankings that matter right now are the ones that are released by the selection committee on Sunday evening.

Outside of a total meltdown in NYC, Villanova is still primed for a No. 1 seed and a trip to Pittsburgh for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and potentially Boston for the East Regional.

But that's all in the future. The now for Villanova is to take care of business at MSG.

Up-and-down week has Villanova steady in AP poll

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Up-and-down week has Villanova steady in AP poll

For the second week in a row, Jay Wright's Villanova squad endured a stunning upset and then followed it up with a statement victory.

And for the second week in a row, the Wildcats held steady in the AP Poll.

After falling 76-71 at Providence on Valentine's Day and then forcefully handling No. 4 Xavier 95-79 in enemy territory on Saturday, Villanova checks in at No. 3 in the AP Poll for the second straight week. This after the 'Cats spent the five weeks prior sitting pretty as the No. 1 team in the land.

The commanding victory at Xavier wasn't enough to propel Villanova ahead of No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 Michigan State. The Cavaliers received 42 first-place votes and the Spartans received 19 first-place votes. The Wildcats garnered four first-place votes for themselves.

Xavier held firm at No. 4 and Duke checked in at No. 5 to round out this week's top five.

March is looming and that means the Big East grind is winding down. The Wildcats, 11-3 in conference play and sitting in second place in the Big East behind 12-3 Xavier, own the tiebreaker over the Musketeers after Saturday's win. They have four regular-season contests left, starting with a home date vs. DePaul on Wednesday night. This week ends with a trip to Creighton on Saturday afternoon.

Take care of business and once again it looks like the Big East goes through Villanova, which has won the last four Big East regular-season titles.

Villanova slips as mammoth showdown looms

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Villanova slips as mammoth showdown looms

Jay Wright's Villanova squad is feeling something unfamiliar out on the Main Line on this cloudy Monday.

Yes, the stunning loss to St. John's this past Wednesday is still stinging. Yes, finally conquering the Butler demons is still sinking in. But those aren't it.

For the first time in five weeks, the Wildcats aren't sitting pretty atop the AP poll.

The loss to the Red Storm, which was previously winless in the Big East, pushed the 23-2 Wildcats down to No. 3 in this week's poll.

Virginia, despite a home loss to unranked Virginia Tech on Saturday night, moved up to No. 1 for the first time since 1982. Michigan State, on the strength of a win over then No. 3 Purdue, moved up to No. 2.

Fellow Big East foe Xavier checks in at No. 4 and Cincinnati moved up to No. 5.

Villanova hits the road to Providence on Wednesday night and then heads to Cincy to for a mammoth matchup with 23-3 Xavier on Saturday afternoon at 4:30. As of Monday morning, the Musketeers actually have an edge on the Wildcats for the top seed in the Big East tournament as Xavier has an 11-2 conference record compared to Villanova's 10-2 conference record. Xavier hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday night before the Wildcats come to town.

All the while, Villanova will remain shorthanded without redshirt junior Phil Booth and junior Eric Paschall. Booth is out several more weeks with a broken hand that has yet to be removed from a cast. Paschall is out indefinitely with a concussion and Wright did not sound optimistic at all after Saturday's win over Butler that Paschall would be ready to go at any point this week.

Both Booth, who averages 11.3 points per game, and Paschall, who averages 10.1 points per game, were in the lineup when the 'Cats ran the Musketeers out of the Wells Fargo Center with an 89-65 beatdown in January.

To make Saturday's game even more juicy, both Villanova and Xavier were pegged as top seeds by the NCAA Tournament selection committee in its first rankings of the season, which were released on Sunday. Villanova was the No. 2 overall seed and the top seed in the East Region while Xavier was the No. 3 overall seed and top seed in the Midwest Region.

So, needless to say, there's just a little bit riding on Saturday's showdown.