Despite its loss Saturday at home to Creighton, Villanova remained a No. 4 seed in the latest NCAA Tournament projections of ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
In fact, not only did the Wildcats stay put Tuesday in the fourth position, they rose to No. 13 overall, the highest of the No. 4 seeds.
“That would seem kind of counterintuitive after losing,” Lunardi said Tuesday, “but they also lost to an upper-tier team, whom they’ve split with. If they had lost to Creighton out there and then won on Saturday, nobody would have blinked. So it was kind of like more of a treading water in two games between the two.”
In their first meeting of the season Jan. 7, the Wildcats defeated Creighton, 64-59, in Omaha.
Lunardi lists five Big East teams in his latest bracket. Seton Hall slipped from a 2 seed to a 3 seed after its loss Saturday at home to Xavier. Butler, which was once a No. 1 seed in the bracket projections, has fallen to No. 5. Creighton rose to a No. 5 seed after beating ‘Nova, and Marquette remained a No. 6 seed.
Xavier moved into the last position in Lunardi’s “Last Four Out,” and Georgetown is the third team in the “Next Four Out” listing.
Four Big East teams — Butler (12), Villanova (13), Creighton (14) and Seton Hall (16) — are in the top 16 of Tuesday’s NCAA NET rankings, the most of any conference.
Villanova has a big week ahead, with games Wednesday at Butler and Saturday against Seton Hall at the Wells Fargo Center.
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the panel that selects, seeds and pairs the field for the NCAA Tournament, will release a preliminary bracket Saturday, a little more than five weeks away from Selection Sunday on March 15. The bracket will list the top 16 teams, consisting of the top four tournament seeds from each of the four regions.
This is the fourth year of the early bracket. Villanova was a No. 1 seed in 2017 and 2018 but was the 17th team last season, just missing out.
Lunardi said he’d be interested to see where the committee ranks undefeated San Diego State, which has been a No. 1 seed in each of his last five bracket projections.
“It’s an unusual kind of team,” he said. “If they make San Diego State a 3 or 4 [seed] when I have them as a 1 and most every evaluator has them as a 1, that would certainly give us pause and go, ‘Wow, are they evaluating things differently?’