Villanova has some familiar company among the teams seeded No. 3 in the latest NCAA Tournament projection released Tuesday by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
The Wildcats, who are ranked No. 12 this week in the Associated Press top 25, are joined by two of their Big East rivals, No. 10 Creighton and No. 13 Seton Hall, as teams seeded third in Lunardi’s bracket. Louisville is the fourth of the 3 seeds.
Overall, Lunardi has Creighton ranked No. 9 overall, Seton Hall 10th and Villanova 11th. He said the Bluejays’ win over the Pirates on the road, and Seton Hall’s victory over the Cats at Wells Fargo Center, led to the order of the three teams.
“Their profiles are all almost identical,” Lunardi said Tuesday. “There’s really any reasonable argument for it to be any order of the three of them because they’re indistinguishable to me.”
Overall, the Big East has seven teams in Lunardi’s bracket, with Providence joining the crowd as a participant in one of the First Four games. Marquette and Butler are 7 seeds and Xavier is a 10.
The Big Ten leads the pack with 10 teams, but things are getting a little dicey for Rutgers, which lost Sunday at Wisconsin to drop its record away from the cozy Rutgers Athletic Center to 1-9 and lower its NET ranking to No. 34.
Lunardi has dropped the Scarlet Knights to a 10 seed in his bracket, but another bracketologist, Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com, has the team plunging into the First Four, meaning a play-in game in Dayton as a No. 11 seed.
“Their firewall, if you will, of not losing any home games was broken last week by Michigan,” Lunardi said. “That then makes their inability to win any road games a complicating factor. I would say the single greatest thing they could do to exhale would be to win a road game, or maybe a couple of neutral-site wins at the Big Ten tournament, depending on who they play.”
Lunardi said that in the Big Ten tournament, the Scarlet Knights would be better off playing “another middle-of-the-Big-Ten team that’s also in the hunt” for the NCAAs rather than the league’s bottom two teams, Northwestern and Nebraska.