For the second time in the school’s history, Villanova will head into the 2015 Men’s NCAA basketball tournament as a number one seed after winning the Big East Conference Tournament.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright made sure to point out the history of Villanova and the NCAA tournament, addressing the hundreds of fans that gathered at the student union to coronate the Wildcats as top seed. “Remember 1939. First Final Four ever, Villanova was in it,” said Wright. “That tradition stays strong.”
The Wildcats don’t seem to be bothered by the pressure that comes with being a no. 1 seed, despite making an early exit from the tournament last season at the hands of the eventual champions UConn. Wright understands expectations will be high, but the Wildcats appear to be ready to be in the spotlight again.
Villanova is currently riding a 15-game winning streak heading into the tournament. The Wildcats have been paired with Patriot-League Champions and no. 16 seed Lafayette to play on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Despite the difference in seeding, Wright expects a tough game. “They’re a very good team. The closest game we played at home this year was Bucknell,” Wright said. “The next closest game we had was Lehigh, and these guys beat both of them.”
Until tip-off later this week, skeptics will continue to wonder if this year’s Wildcats team will be different than the 2014 version. Junior guard Ryan Arcidiacono has confidence that he and his teammates are better prepared to play and will not be affected by the pressure and past failures the team has endured.
“We’re not afraid to lose,” said Arcidiacono. “We’ve been there before, so I don’t think it’s big to us. If we go down playing the basketball we know hot to play, we’ll be happy with that.”