The 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket has been announced, and last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball champion Villanova has an excellent opportunity to repeat as champions.
They had a bit of a scare in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament with a 55-53 win over Seton Hall, but following that, the Villanova Wildcats defeated Creighton 74-60 to cruise to the Big East Tournament championship en route to their No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as they are in the East bracket. Villanova will face the winner of Mt. St. Mary’s/New Orleans in the No. 16 seed game.
The path of Villanova not only begins with facing a No. 16 seed this Thursday, but a win will next move them to face the winner of No. 8 Wisconsin/No. 9 Virginia.
Looking ahead to Villanova’s path to the Elite 8, their strongest competition could be a game in the second week of the NCAA Tournament when they could possibly face the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils.
In an article looking ahead to the path of Villanova, Dick Jerardi of Philly.com stated the “path to the Elite 8” of the Villanova Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament isn’t “overwhelming.”
“The Wildcats’ path to the Elite 8 does not look overwhelming… If the seeds hold at the bottom of the bracket, Virginia would play Florida to get a shot at Villanova in the Sweet 16. Each of those teams has a great defense, with below average offenses…”
All of that said, the Villanova Wildcats have a manageable path to make a very solid run in the NCAA Tournament and repeat as NCAA champions. Here are five reasons the Villanova Wildcats can become winners of the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season.
• A Kind Path: Villanova shouldn’t have a tough matchup until their potential game with Duke in the Elite 8, but never say never in the NCAA Tournament because this is the tournament where nothing is guaranteed, and Cinderella loves to create chaos in March.
• Experience Is Key: Villanova has been here before. Last year in the NCAA Tournament, Villanova was a No. 2 seed, and they didn’t exactly struggle in any game. In fact, none of their scores were close until they defeated North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament championship game by a 77-74 score.
• Excellent Regular Season: The Wildcats have an overall record of 31-3 during the regular season and have won their past five games, so they, like some others in this tournament, have a nice winning streak entering their first game of NCAA Tournament. This year’s Villanova squad knows how to win games, and with three players averaging double figures this season, Villanova could become the first team to repeat as champions of the NCAA Tournament since Florida in 2006 and 2007.
• A Top Player On Roster: Villanova has first-team All-American selection Josh Hart on their roster, and he is one of the best small forwards in all of college basketball. Hart this season for Villanova averaged 18.9 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game during the regular season. Hart has the abilities to help lead Villanova back to the top of the NCAA Tournament.
• Going For History: Not many teams in the history of the NCAA Tournament have won back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, and Villanova has a very good chance to become the first team since the dynasty Florida built in the mid-200os under Billy Donovan to achieve that feat.
This NCAA Tournament isn’t a given for any of the 68 teams who have qualified. The Villanova Wildcats have one of the top chances because they have been one of the more consistent teams during the NCAA regular season. No matter how the NCAA Tournament turns out, the chances are high for Villanova reaching no less than the Elite 8 and then repeating as NCAA Tournament champions.
[Featured Image by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]