Men’s Basketball Earns a Two-Seed in the South Region


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

The Wildcats react to their bid surrounded by loyal Nova Nation supporters.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

The Villanova Wildcats will be a two-seed in the South Region of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and will take on No.15 seed Delaware in the Round of 64 on Friday in Pittsburgh. The ‘Cats received an automatic bid into the tournament after claiming the Big East Conference Tournament title on Saturday night with a 54-48 win over Creighton.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright said that this Selection Sunday was special after the past two were either canceled or limited in scope due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This year’s kind of special after not doing it for two years,” Wright said. “I think we’re all kind of back being excited again and we might be a little overly excited because we haven’t done it in a couple of years.”

Wright said that he didn’t realize that a good portion of the team had never been through the Selection Sunday experience before. 

“Before we came in here, I asked the guys, ‘Raise your hands if you’ve done this before’, and there were only a few. I said ‘Wait a minute, raise your hands if you haven’t done this before,’ and it was most of our team,” Wright said. “It was our juniors and seniors that had done this and that was it. So we had a lot of new guys that hadn’t experienced this.”

The Blue Hens are a familiar foe for the Wildcats, having last met in December 2019. The two programs have met 14 times dating back to 1952, and the Blue Hens are yet to secure a victory against the ‘Cats. Wright said that he always expects the matchups on Selection Sunday to be crazy, so he was unsurprised to see Delaware pop up.\

“When it pops up, you just know it’s going to be wild. You know it’s going to be something. You’re going to have to deal with it, but I have watched them, they’re really good,” Wright said. “They’re a really good team, they’re experienced, they’ve got older guys, and they’ve been together for a while, they fought their way through the league. They’ve really played their best basketball lately.”

Also in the Pittsburgh regional are No.7 seed Ohio State and No.10 seed Loyola Chicago. If Villanova is able to defeat the Blue Hens, the ‘Cats will face the winner of that game on Sunday.

By being placed in the South Region, if Villanova wins twice during the first weekend, the second weekend will be in San Antonio. The No.1 seed in the South Region is Arizona, and the third and fourth seeds are Tennessee and Illinois, respectively.

Wright said that separating the team from its conference tournament successes is instrumental to the success of the squad in the big dance. 

“We’ll meet tonight and we will begin the breakaway from that success. That’s a challenge,” Wright said. “We have to break away from all of that, we’ve got to focus on getting better this week and get prepared for Delaware. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but when you go through that experience at Madison Square Garden, and you’re in that excitement, and then you come down from that… you’ve got to get yourself refocused.”

The Wildcats last won the NCAA Tournament in 2018, when they knocked off Michigan, 79-62.