It’s been a tough road for Jay Wright and his Villanova players, but they’ve met every challenge and proven themselves, even as numerous other teams have fallen by the wayside in the NCAA Tournament. Now it’s down to them and only three other teams: Kansas, Duke, and North Carolina.

Those are decent odds for the Wildcats, but they’ll have to face the next game undermanned. Even before the tournament, guard Jordan Longino was lost with a knee injury that required surgery. Now another guard, Justin Moore, is out with an Achilles tendon tear.

Moore was a key contributor on defense and the team’s second-leading scorer. Villanova is more than the sum of its parts, but he was an important part.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Tell us what your prediction is for Villanova’s tournament finish: sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

The Eagles agreed to sign linebacker Kyzir White, providing a 26-year-old tackler who comes at a low cost and can help Jonathan Gannon’s defense. Our beat writers weighed in, and they like this signing.

On offense, the Eagles could be using the first round of the draft to select a receiver, as they’ve missed on some free agents. If they do, the receiver could very well come out of Ohio State. Josh Tolentino stopped by the Buckeyes’ pro day and found that prospect Garrett Wilson is an Eagles fan expressing excitement about the possibility of coming to Philadelphia. In fact, mock drafts have listed Wilson and also Ohio State teammate Chris Olave as possibilities to get drafted by the Eagles in the first round.

Extra Innings

Bryce Harper hit home runs in consecutive at-bats in a spring training game against the Blue Jays, but that wasn’t the most impressive development on Sunday. That came with the continued production of two young players who could turn into contributors this season. Bryson Stott, the Phillies’ top prospect, cranked his first homer of the spring in the fifth inning. Mickey Moniak, the first overall pick of the 2016 draft, hit a two-run shot, his third homer in as many days. The Phillies are set at every position except third base and center field, which could make the production from Stott and Moniak very interesting over the next two weeks.

If Stott doesn’t make the opening-day roster, the Phillies insist it won’t be because they are trying to maximize their contractual control over the top prospect.

The view was spectacular for Nick Castellanos in his spring debut with the Phillies on Sunday — he got to watch Harper’s two home runs from the on-deck circle.

Next: The Phillies play the Baltimore Orioles at 1:05 p.m. Monday (NBCSP+).

Off the Dribble

Joel Embiid and James Harden have made an impressive pair since the Feb. 10 trade deadline deal that brought them together. Together, they’ve led the 76ers to a spot at the top of the Eastern Conference and captured big wins against the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers.

And along the way, Embiid became more open to the concept of rolling for easy buckets at the rim in the screen and roll. Embiid was previously keen to pop in pick-and-roll possessions, but has now trusted Harden to make the right play on drives. Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams became aware of that as he prepared for his team’s Sunday game against the 76ers. “We’ve seen James in the pick-and-roll everywhere he’s been. I’ve never seen [Joel] roll the way that he’s rolling now,” Williams said.

We’re sure Williams witnessed the lethal pick-and-roll tandem team up during the Suns’ 114-104 win against the Sixers.

Next: The Sixers play a big Eastern Conference matchup at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (NBCSP).

On the Fly

Things started well for the Flyers in Nashville on Sunday night, as the advantageous visitors scored two goals on four shots to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The second period proved to be a much different story, as the Flyers surrendered four goals. The Flyers looked poised to at least grab a point late into the final stanza, but as has been the story all season long, they allowed yet another backbreaking goal in the final minutes and fell, 5-4, to the Predators.

Next: The Flyers wrap up their five-game road trip Tuesday in Minnesota against the Wild (8 p.m., NBCSP+).

Fleet Street

The scars from missing out on the last World Cup tournament linger for the USA, since everything that could go wrong did that fateful day five years ago, so even with all the numbers lined up for the Americans after a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Panama, it wasn’t time yet for a World Cup celebration.

But, barring an epic collapse and six-goal loss against Costa Rica, the U.S. has indeed punched its ticket behind Canada’s historic World Cup qualification, its first since 1986. Already-eliminated Jamaica and the Union’s Andre Blake were the victims of Canada’s 4-0 clinching win.

Worth a Look

On This Day

It was exactly on this day 30 years ago that Christian Laettner sank “The Shot” in Philadelphia at the Spectrum.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Jeff McLane, EJ Smith, Keith Pompey, Marcus Hayes, Mike Jensen, Mike Sielski, Matt Breen, Scott Lauber, Gina Mizell, Josh Tolentino, Giana Han, Sam Cohn, and Jonathan Tannenwald.