I went into work early this morning so that I could keep an eye on the espn.com men's basketball scoreboard while grading papers, more specifically, so that I could keep an eye on the Villanova/South Florida game. Villanova had most of their players returning from a Final Four team that appeared to have the talent to get back there again this year. Their season started out strong and they climbed as high as #6 in the polls, but they've lost 6 of their last 8 games including bad losses to Seton Hall and Providence. Their downward spiral began with a loss at Rutgers, a close loss at home to Pitt, barely eking out wins again Seton Hall and DePaul (the 12 and 16 seeds in the Big East respectively), followed by losses to Syracuse, St. Johns, Notre Dame, and Pitt.
None of the last four were bad losses, consequently, I was interested in seeing how they would respond in the Big East Tournament and while I was unable to "watch" the game, I did follow the gamecast throughout and it seemed as though the game embodied their season as a whole. Villanova started strong and had a 16 point lead at halftime. However, South Florida began to chip away at the lead and a lack of execution coupled with a few back choices, like Maalik Wayns turning the ball over with 22 seconds like when they were up by one, allowed South Florida to complete the epic comeback.
While 21-11 overall, and 9-9 in the Big East during an exceptionally strong year for the conference, most of those 11 losses, respectable as some of them may be, came at exactly the worst time. I'm interested to see what happens with Villanova come Selection Sunday, but can't say that I'll be surprised wherever they end up.
The game that I'm most looking forward to on tomorrow's docket is St. John's vs. Rutgers. My freshman year of high school I had a strange affinity for the Mike Jarvis era when St. John's was relatively competitive that culminated in me "wearing" a St. John's t-shirt in my self-portrait drawn in art class, and while my loyalty to the 'Cuse doesn't waiver, I am glad to see Steve Lavin has brought the Johnnies back. Additionally, a St. John's vs. Syracuse quarter-final match-up would be epic because New York City is Syracuse's "home away from home" and the Orange have been highly successful in the Garden, while MSG plays host to many of St. John's actual home games. That being said, now that everyone is excited for that potential match-up, Rutgers will pull the upset and spoil everyone's fun :)