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Wildcats to Meet Mount St. Mary's in NCAA Tournament Thursday
March 15, 2017

Josh Hart -

TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel and Allie LaForce)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The top seeded Villanova Wildcats will meet Mount St. Mary's, which defeated New Orleans 67-66 in an NCAA Tournament First Four game in Dayton Tuesday, in its first round game here on Thursday evening. Tipoff at KeyBank Center is set for 7:10 p.m.

The Wildcats, who on Monday, returned to the No. 1 spot in the final Associated Press poll of the season -- a first for the program -- arrived in Buffalo on Monday evening in advance of the winter storm that moved up the eastern seaboard. Villanova went through a brisk workout at Canisius College on Tuesday and will now fully focus its attention on Mount St. Mary's.

"This has been great for us," stated senior forward Kris Jenkins. "We've had some time to be up here together and bond. We're used to being on the road this time of year. We just got back from spending most of last week at the Big East Tournament."

The all-time series record between the two programs stands at 10-1 in favor of the `Cats. The two teams last met in November 2013 at the Pavilion when Villanova emerged with a 90-58 win. Current seniors Jenkins, Josh Hart, and Darryl Reynolds were a part of that Wildcats unit.

"It's our most important game because it's our next game," stated Jenkins when asked Tuesday about facing a No. 16 seed as the No. 1 seed. "We'll be focused and ready to go. Our coaches will have us well prepared."

Jenkins explained that he likes where his team, now 31-3 after earning the BIG EAST Tournament title last weekend, is at entering the NCAA Tournament.



"I think this team has grown and gotten better, just like we did last year," he noted.

Another honor was bestowed on Hart on Monday, when the BIG EAST Player of the Year was tabbed a first team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association.

As a native of Silver Spring, Md., Hart is familiar with the Mountaineers, who are based in Emittsburg, Md., and coach Jamion Christian.

"I know Coach Christian personally," he stated. "He's a great coach."

When asked about any burden that may come along with being the No. 1 overall seed in this event for the first time in the program's history, Hart explained that those kinds of thoughts don't weigh on him.

"It's about the guys in this locker room," he said. "Whatever happens, we're all we've got in a sense. We play for our teammates and our coaches. We don't put any expectations on ourselves. We want to be the best team we can be at the end of the year. That's all we focus on doing.

"There's no pressure or anything like that."

The winner of Thursday night's first game will face the winner in the nightcap, which features No. 8 seed Wisconsin and No. 9 seed Virginia Tech. The round of 32 contest will take place on Saturday at a time to be determined.