March 17, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - For the eighth time in the last nine years Villanova (20-13) has earned an at-large selection to the NCAA Championship. The 68-team tournament field was revealed on Sunday evening live on CBS and the Wildcats drew the No. 9 seed in the South Region. Villanova will take on No. 8 seed North Carolina in a second round game on Friday in Kansas City, Mo.
Villanova is making its 33rd overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and has an all-time record of 49-32 (.605) in the `Big Dance.' This is the fifth time since the tournament began to seed teams in 1979 that the Wildcats will be a No. 9 seed. Villanova is 12-7 (.632) in NCAA Tournament appearances under head coach Jay Wright, all in the last nine years.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Villanova carries a 20-13 overall record after going 10-8 during regular season BIG EAST games. The Wildcats were the No. 7 seed in the BIG EAST Championship and defeated St. John's in the second round of the conference tournament. According to rankings posted on espn.com, Villanova ranks No. 51 in the RPI and has the No. 21 strength of schedule. Among the highlights of the Wildcats tournament resumé are three regular season victories over teams ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25 poll at the time of the game. Villanova is 4-2 against teams ranked in the top 25 of the RPI and has eight victories against top 100 teams.
Villanova features a balanced offensive attack and is led by sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkson, a third team All-BIG EAST selection. Pinkston leads the team with 13.1 points per game and also averages 4.9 rebounds per contest. Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie team and averages 12.0 points and 3.5 assists per game. He also leads the Wildcats with 70 three-pointers for the season. Senior center Mouphtaou Yarou leads the team in rebounding (7.8 rebounds per game) and averages 9.7 points per contest, while sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard (11.2 ppg.) and junior guard James Bell (8.7 ppg., 55 three-pointers) are also main contributors.
North Carolina enters the NCAA Tournament with a 24-10 overall record and went 12-6 in the ACC during the regular season. That record earned the Tar Heels a No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament and North Carolina advanced to the championship game with victories over Florida State and Maryland in its first two games of the conference championship. The trio of sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, junior guard Reggie Bullock and sophomore guard P.J. Hairston have nearly even numbers and all three average between 14.2 and 14.4 points per game. McAdoo averages a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game.
There have been five previous meetings in the NCAA Tournament between the Wildcats and North Carolina, with Villanova owning a 1-4 record in those meetings. The Wildcats defeated the Tar Heels in a regional final game in 1985 en route to winning the national championship. More recently the teams met in the Final Four in 2009, with eventual champion North Carolina posting an 83-69 win in a national semifinal game. Villanova is 4-10 all-time against the Tar Heels.
Game times for all second and third round games will be announced late Sunday night or on Monday. The winner of Friday's game between Villanova and North Carolina will advance to a third round game next Sunday (Mar. 24) against either No. 1 seed Kansas (29-5) or No. 16 seed Western Kentucky (20-15).
This is the second time that Villanova will be playing NCAA Tournament games in Kansas City. The first occasion was in 1983 when the Wildcats defeated Iowa in a regional semifinal game before falling to top seed Houston in the regional final.
NOTES: The NCAA began to seed teems in the tournament in 1979 ... Villanova was also a No. 9 seed in its last NCAA Tournament appearance, in 2011 ... The Wildcats are 2-4 all-time as a No. 9 seed ... Villanova is one of nine teams from the BIG EAST in the top 51 of the RPI ... Eight conference teams earned a spot in the NCAA field ... Villanova tied a school record with seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2005-11 and first achieved the feat in a run from 1980-86 ... Both of those streaks included a Final Four appearance ... Villanova owns more wins as an underdog seed (15) in the NCAA Tournament than any other program.