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January 25, 2016

Big Five Bracketology: Villanova drops to 2 line, Saint Joe’s squarely on bubble

The snow made it difficult to get around, but Sunday was quite the college hoops day in Philly. In case you missed it:

•    Devin Coleman caught fire from deep, pouring in 23 points on perfect 8-8 shooting to help Temple knock off Larry Brown and No. 8 SMU, 89-80. This was a big win, because the Mustangs were the nation’s last unbeaten team:

Our own Joe Santoloquito was there, and boy, what a strange year it has been for the Owls. Fran Dunphy’s bunch sits at 11-7 (and nowhere near the at-large discussion), but they own four wins over teams in the Top-33 of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. They also lost toss-up games to Top-50 teams Butler, Utah, and Saint Joe’s. The Owls still have some big games left on the schedule, but for now, they’re not in the picture for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth. That could conceivably change if they catch fire down the stretch.

•    Down in South Philly, No. 4 Villanova (now No. 6) lost its first Big East game in over a year in overtime to now No. 10 Providence, 82-76:

I was there and it was a toss-up game that ‘Nova was bound to lose at some point. No shame in coming up short against the Friars’ combo of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil for Jay Wright’s team, but they definitely took a hit in the polls after the loss.

•    St. Joe’s made the short trek to Olney and took care of business against a shorthanded La Salle team in a transition year, 69-48. The Hawks improved their record to 16-3 and 5-1 in Atlantic 10 play.

So, where do Villanova and St. Joe’s currently stand in the various Bracketology posts that were released on Monday? Here are the three outlets that I checked:

•    ESPN, Joe Lunardi

•    CBS Sports, Jerry Palm

•    USA Today, Shelby Mast


Consensus: 2-seed

Believe it or not, the St. Joe’s guy is the only prognosticator who still has the Wildcats on the one line. That likely wouldn’t be the scenario Jay Wright and ‘Nova want in this situation, though. In Lunardi’s bracket, the Wildcats are the top seed in the West Region. And while being one of the top four teams is an honor, that regional is in Anaheim, California. That’s kind of far from the Main Line.

Palm and Mast have the Wildcats on the two line in the East Region, but guess where that regional is being played? The Wildcats’ second home, the Wells Fargo Center. It’s tough to be the prospect of waking up in your own bed and playing a regional final.

Saint Joseph’s

Consensus: Last at-large team in the field

Lunardi has his Hawks as the first team out, while the other two bracketologists slot St. Joe’s just on the other side of that cut line. Considering how this isn’t a great year overall for the A-10, Phil Martelli’s team will probably need to win a bunch of their remaining games to remain in the at-large conversation. That’s also true for everyone else on the bubble, though.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann