Wildcats Receive No. 2 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Face Robert Morris in First Round
March 14, 2010
VILLANOVA, Pa. - For only the second time in the history of the program, Villanova is headed for the NCAA Tournament for a sixth consecutive season. The Wildcats (24-7) earned an at-large bid to the tournament and are the No. 2 seed in the South Region. The tournament field of 65 teams was announced Sunday evening on CBS. Villanova will head to Providence, R.I. for a first round game on Thursday against Robert Morris, which is a No. 15 seed after winning the Northeast Conference championship.
Villanova is making its sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, making its current string of selections to the tournament field the second-longest in school history. The Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament seven straight years from 1980-86. Overall, this is the 31st appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Villanova, which is 48-30 (.615) all-time in the `Big Dance.' This also marks the first time since seeding began in 1979 that the Wildcats have drawn a No. 2 seed.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Villanova carries a 24-7 overall record after going 13-5 during regular season BIG EAST games and finishing in a tie for second place in the regular season conference standings. The Wildcats rate No. 11 in the RPI, according to espn.com, and none of the team's seven losses have come to teams ranked lower than 63 in the RPI. Three of Villanova's wins during the year have come against ranked teams, while the Wildcats are 3-5 (.375) against the top 25 of the RPI.
Villanova is led by senior guard Scottie Reynolds, a first team All-America selection by Sporting News and Yahoo! as well as a unanimous first team All-BIG EAST choice. Reynolds averages a team-high 18.5 points per game and ranks second in school history with 2,194 career points. The Wildcats also feature third team All-BIG EAST honoree Corey Fisher, who ranks second on the roster with 13.7 points per contest. Junior forward Antonio Pena chips in 10.9 points per game and is the team's leading rebounder with 7.4 boards per game.
Robert Morris enters the NCAA Tournament with a 23-11 overall record and was 15-3 in Northeast Conference play during the regular season. The Colonials were the No. 2 seed in their conference tournament and defeated top-seeded Quinnipiac, 52-50, in the championship game played on Quinnipiac's home floor. This is the second straight conference title for Robert Morris, which also was a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Colonials are the first repeat NEC champion since Rider won back-to-back conference titles in 1993 and 1994.
Thursday's first round game between Villanova and Robert Morris will be the first meeting ever between the teams. The Colonials feature NEC Defensive Player of the Year in senior guard Mezie Nwigwe and the Rookie of the Year in freshman guard Karon Abraham. The team is led in scoring by Abraham, who averages 13.4 points per game and shoots 44 percent (80-181) from three-point range. Nwigwe is second on the team in steals with 44 and averages 8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Game times for all first round games will be announced late Sunday night or on Monday. The winner of Thursday's game between Villanova and Robert Morris will advance to a second round game on Saturday against either No. 7 seed Richmond (26-8) or No. 10 seed Saint Mary's (26-5).
Villanova has played NCAA Tournament games in Providence twice before, though not since it went 1-1 there as a No. 8 seed in 1980. The Wildcats also played a second round game and a regional semifinal game there in 1978.
NOTES: The NCAA began to seed teems in the tournament in 1979 ... Villanova was a No. 1 seed for the first time in its history in 2006 ... This is the seventh time that the Wildcats have drawn a top 3 seed (one No. 1 seed, one No. 2 seed, five No. 3 seeds) ... The Wildcats are one of five BIG EAST teams in the top 13 of the RPI and one of eight teams in the top 50 ... All eight of those BIG EAST schools made the field of 65 ... The Wildcats won their only national championship in 1985 ... Villanova was a No. 8 seed that season ... The Wildcats own more wins as an underdog seed (15) in the NCAA Tournament than any other program (UCLA has the next-highest total with 11 low-seed victories).