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Sports

Third-Ranked Wildcats Preparing For Big East Tourney

James Bell (credit: Ed Benkin)

James Bell (credit: Ed Benkin)

Ed Benkin Ed Benkin
Ed Benkin has been reporting sports for KYW Newsradio since April...
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By Ed Benkin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Villanova is the top seed in the Big East Tournament and the third ranked team in the country, but it’s business as usual on the Main Line.

The Wildcats will begin play in the Big East Tournament in New York on Thursday.  Villanova is gaining plenty of national attention after a 28-3 regular season, but Head Coach Jay Wright says there are advantages and disadvantages of a top five ranking.

“It’s definitely a good thing,” said Wright.  “But it’s a challenge, especially at this time of the year.  When it happens here in the final poll for March Madness, it is a challenge to keep everybody focused.”

Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright. (credit: Ed Benkin)

Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright. (credit: Ed Benkin)

The Wildcats are favored by many to win the Big East Tournament, and winning the Big East crown could result in a top seed for the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.  However, players such as Darrun Hilliard are more worried about the next opponent and less worried about national rankings and tournament seedings.

“Being a top five team in the country is pretty good for us,” Hilliard said.  “It’s pretty good for the program and for the school, but we don’t look too much into it.  We just have to take it a game at a time.”

Villanova won’t know it’s opponent until about 15 hours before tip-off.  The Wildcats will face the winner of the opening round contest between Butler and Seton Hall Wednesday night.  However, Wright isn’t worried about preparation with the fast turnaround since the Wildcats have faced both of their opponents twice this season.

“Everybody knows everybody in our league,” said Wright.  “You could see it when we played them the second time around.  It’s much easier to prepare, but it’s tougher to play.”

The Wildcats’ one game at a time approach has been successful throughout the season.  Sophomore Guard Ryan Arcidiacono doesn’t believe he and his teammates will get caught looking ahead when they take the court Thursday afternoon.

“It’s tough because you never know,” Arcidiacono said.  “Teams can get hot.  It will be our first game, so it will be tough but it will be a good time.”

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