Being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament carries some advantages. It means staying in the nicest team hotel at a subregional or regional site. It means going up against the 16th seed in the opening game; the lower seeds are 0-120 in those contests since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
One edge that Jay Wright remembers the last time Villanova played as a No. 1 seed, in 2006, was that the Wildcats won twice at the Wachovia Center (now the Wells Fargo Center), an arena in which they played three times in the regular season.
"That was a big advantage, because our second-round game was against Arizona," he said. "They were so good that year. If we weren't playing at the Wells Fargo Center, I don't know if we would have beaten that team. Late in that game, the crowd got crazy. So, that definitely was an advantage."
Wright has played down his team's chances at a No. 1 seed, but he won't turn down the invitation should the NCAA Division I selection committee write them in on Sunday - a virtual certainty if 'Nova wins the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The Cats (29-2, 16-2), champions of the regular season and winners of their last 12 games, open play Thursday against Marquette.
Wright said earlier this week that any advantage a No. 1 seed holds fades after the first game. He looks at his team's 82-78 win over No. 8 Arizona in 2006 as evidence that "a hungry 8-9 team has nothing to lose.
"The pressure's really on you in that second game," he said. "Once you get past that second game, then everything is evened up kind of. You kind of feel a relief."
As selection time nears, the Wildcats are one of five or six teams that are competing for the three No. 1 seeds behind undefeated Kentucky. Duke and Virginia are believed to be ahead of Villanova at the moment, with Wisconsin, Arizona, and Kansas chasing.
Either Duke or Virginia is guaranteed to lose one game, since they both play in the ACC. Other movement depends on how soon any of the other contenders lose.
But what if several teams win their conference tournaments? How does the selection committee separate the last No. 1 seed from the first No. 2 seed?
"Certainly, those teams are all worthy of strong consideration," Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes, chair of the Division I men's basketball committee, said Wednesday. "Any run in those tournaments plays a part, particularly when the resumés are so thin and we're looking for differentials between those teams.
"We do have to consider how they finish in terms of what's going on. The weight of the conference is one of the things that is of interest to us. Are there balanced conference schedules, or not, as we go through the regular conference season? That's certainly a consideration."
As of Wednesday, the Big East ranks behind only the Big Twelve in conference RPI. The ACC, Big Ten, and SEC are third through fifth.
In two of the last five years, the Wildcats have not survived the first weekend of the NCAAs as a No. 2 seed, including last year. Wright feels this year's team will handle the hype and expectations better.
"We know it's out there, and we've got to deal with it," he said. "But what we control is how we do in practice and how well we prepare for the next game. That's the challenge. It's not easy, but I'd much rather be in this spot than any other."