Villanova's Disappointment in Big East Won't Carry into NCAA Tournament

Nate LoopFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2014

Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono, left, reacts after his team committed a foul during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Seton Hall in the second round of the Big East Conference tournament at Madison Square Garden, Thursday, March 13, 2014 in New York. Seton Hall defeated Villanova 64-63.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Villanova may have relinquished a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with its shocking loss to Seton Hall, but the uncharacteristic performance it displayed will not carry over once the NCAA tournament starts.

One of the best squads in Wildcats history was unable to figure out a Seton Hall team that went 6-12 in Big East play.

Villanova ends the regular season at 28-3. The most wins EVER at Villanova University in the regular season.

— Nova Hoops (@NovaHoops1) March 8, 2014

Villanova couldn't have looked worse after falling behind 28-13 early on.

The Wildcats eventually lost 64-63 on a buzzer beater by Sterling Gibbs, and it's clear this game was a big flop, both literally and figuratively.

Jubilance for Seton Hall was contrasted by utter confusion for Villanova, but despite the ragged play, the Wildcats will still be a force in this year's edition of the NCAA tournament.

Villanova managed to rip off 16 straight points during one stretch of the game, which demonstrates its resilience as a team, despite the fact it should have never found itself in such a deep hole to begin with. Assuming it can play to its potential from the opening tipoff, that mental fortitude will serve it well come tournament time.

The game was also clearly a huge statistical aberration from its usual excellent play.

Villanova shot just 37.9 percent from the floor (45.9 percent on the season) and 21.1 percent from beyond the arc (36.1 percent during the regular season).

This came against a Seton Hall team that finished 164th in defense and 274th in blocked shots. It is highly unlikely the Pirates figured out the secret to suffocating team defense right before the tournament started, so it's safe to assume Villanova just had a poor shooting night.

'Nova's leading scorer, James Bell (14.5 points per game), went AWOL during this contest, finishing with three points on 0-for-8 shooting from the floor.

Villanova is well balanced, however, as JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard both averaged at least 14 points a contest during the season, and the Wildcats can scrap together an offense in the NCAA tournament even if one of their big three is having a difficult game.

Although Villanova has no choice but to sit and brood on their head-scratchings loss, it can at least take comfort in having a few extra days of rest before the NCAA tournament. Phil Murphy of EPSN found another silver lining to this loss:

Look at the bright side, Villanova. At least you avoid Creighton.

— Phil Murphy (@Phil_Sports) March 13, 2014

This may come in handy considering the Big East was a grind this year, with several teams enjoying strong seasons such as Creighton, Providence and Xavier.

Villanova will take the loss and regroup, and should be fired up heading into the tournament, eager to prove it has what it takes to become the No. 1 team in the nation, no matter what its seeding says.