Villanova held the No. 1 spot in the nation last February for three weeks, which was nice, and then finished the season No. 1, which meant so much more doing it on the court instead of winning a media poll.

So the fact that the Wildcats ascended to the top spot Monday in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls was met with some shrugs and much focus on Tuesday night's Big Five matchup against La Salle at the Palestra.

"We learned last time," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We had it, we lost it, the sun still came up the next day, we still had a lot of basketball left to play. Before we had it the first time, we thought, 'Wow, that would be really cool.' And it was, it was really cool.

"But now it's not that big of a deal. La Salle's a big deal. Getting ready for that game is a big deal."

Villanova was already 20-3 last season when it reached No. 1 on Feb. 8. This year, the Wildcats are 8-0. Wright thought there was a little difference last year getting to the top later in the season because "we kind of earned it more."

This season, however, the focus has been on a good start and improvement rather than ranking.

"At the end of the day, it's an honor but we've got to keep getting better," senior guard Josh Hart said. "Our goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the year, so we've got to keep working, keep getting better and be the best team we can be by the end of the year."

The Wildcats, 2-0 in the Big Five, will attempt to win their 17th consecutive City Series game against a La Salle team that lost its Big Five opener in overtime at Temple and is 4-2 this season.

The two teams have played well offensively to date. The Wildcats are shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three-point range and averaging 79.9 points. The Explorers are hitting 48.1 percent of their shots - 42.1 percent from beyond the arc - and averaging 83.8.

Hart, who posted his first career triple-double on Saturday against St. Joseph's, leads the Cats in scoring at 17.1 points per game and Kris Jenkins is at 14.1. B.J. Johnson and Jordan Price are combining to average more than 37 points for the Explorers.

"I really like their team," Wright said. "They're really talented. They've got a lot of offensive firepower. You can see that each game they play together, they're getting more efficient, they're getting a lot better defensively."