In one of the best games of the college basketball season, the Villanova Wildcats upset the No. 3 Syracuse Orange 75-71 in overtime at home in The Pavilion.
The victory for the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3 in Big East) marks the team’s second win over a top-five team in the last week (Villanova beat then-No. 5 Louisville Cardinals on Tuesday), which is the first time that has happened since November of 2001, according to Elias Sports:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Villanova is 1st unranked team since Ball State (4 Kansas, 3 UCLA) in Nov. 2001 to win back-to-back games vs Top-5 teams (h/t @EliasSports).2013-1-26 18:36:55
While Syracuse (18-2, 6-1) came into the game as the favorite, many experts had the Orange on upset alert considering how well Villanova played against Louisville. Syracuse has been in a few close matchups this season (last two games were won by four combined points), and it was a matter of time before a team hit a few timely three-point shots and handed the Orange a loss.
That’s exactly what the Wildcats did.
Despite shooting a mediocre 9-of-27 from the three-point line in the game, Villanova got a huge boost from Ryan Arcidiacono’s last-second three to send the game into overtime, and James Bell’s two three-pointers in OT that sealed the win for the Wildcats.
Syracuse played solid defensively, but lapses late in the game and a terrible 21-of-63 from the field doomed the Orange early. The team made a valiant second-half run to almost steal the win, but timely scoring from Villanova kept Syracuse on its heels.
The Orange have a few days off to recover mentally from this loss, but a tough schedule and high expectations will force the team back to work immediately. If Syracuse learns from this loss, though, they could be better in the long run for it and will be even more dangerous in March.
Villanova was not ranked coming into this week, but two wins over serious national championship contenders has many fans arguing for their inclusion in the Top 25.
As great as their wins are, the fact that the Wildcats have seven losses (including losses to Columbia, LaSalle and Providence) proves they don’t deserve to be ranked—at least not until the team can string a few wins together.
While Jayson Stark is usually a baseball reporter, the Philadelphia resident showcased how there was more on the line Sunday than just a regular-season game; this was the last Big East matchup between these two teams:
Jayson Stark @jaysonst
Historic day in South Phila. Last Syracuse-Villanova Big East game ever. What a shame. Awesome rivalry. Good times! http://t.co/Uv4PDBgL2013-1-26 15:53:59
One of the biggest voices in college basketball, Dick Vitale, talked about how Villanova has launched themselves into his Team of the Week conversation:
Dick Vitale @DickieV
Well I guess I have my TEAM of the WEEK VILLANOVA BABY as they have beaten LOUISVILLE & SYRACUSE = WOW2013-1-26 18:35:57
Many Wildcats fans thought all hope was lost for Villanova to make the NCAA tournament, but Comcast’s Reuben Frank is holding out hope that the team could sneak in the back door:
Reuben Frank @RoobCSN
Wow, another huge win for Nova. They hold it together, they're back in the NCAAs. Exciting stuff!2013-1-26 18:30:26
Yahoo!’s Pat Forde looks ahead at what the Wildcats must focus on now to be a real contender:
Pat Forde @YahooForde
What a great week for Nova. Team has found itself. Next: can they take it on the road?2013-1-26 18:27:34