By Ed Benkin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Villanova has been notorious in recent years for bouncing back after defeats.  The Wildcats have faced that scenario more often than they’d like in recent weeks.

After sitting atop the national rankings for much of the season, Villanova is 3-3 in its last six games and has slipped to number four in the rankings.  The Wildcats suffered a frustrating overtime loss at Creighton last Saturday and will look for another bounce-back win Wednesday night at Seton Hall.  Coach Jay Wright believes this younger version of the Wildcats is still going through a learning process with tournament time on the horizon.

“We knew this is what we would be,” said Wright.  “Sometimes we’ve looked good, and that’s what younger teams do.  They’re just inconsistent.  That’s really what we’ve been.  We’ve had some good defensive nights and some bad defensive nights and some good shooting nights and some bad shooting nights.  We’ve got to just develop more consistency.”

The inconsistency has dropped Villanova into second place in the Big East.  The Wildcats are one game behind first-place Xavier and hold the tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep of the Musketeers.  However, Xavier can wrap up the regular season crown with wins over Providence and DePaul in its last two games.  Players such as Phil Booth aren’t used to looking up at anyone in the standings this late in the season.

“I’ve never looked at the standings,” said Booth.  “I could hear people saying that were one.  Everybody is saying we’re number two in the standings so I know.  It does sound a little different, but our mindset doesn’t change.  It’s the next game for us.”

That next game won’t be an easy one for Villanova on Wednesday night.  Seton Hall is 20-9 on the season and will look to avenge a loss to Villanova from earlier this month.  Even though the Wildcats have won the last four meetings, Wright’s squad usually has its hands full with the Pirates.  Guard Jalen Brunson says Seton Hall has plenty of ways to beat opponents.

“They have great balance on both sides of the floor,” said Brunson.  “They’re athletic.  They have great size.  They’re a great rebounding team on both ends of the floor.  They’re the full package.”

Despite its recent results, many believe Villanova is still destined for one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament.  Barring an early exit in the Big East Tourney, The Wildcats should put themselves in an excellent position for the Big Dance in two weeks.  However, teams such as Seton Hall have been building their NCAA resume and the Pirates can greatly enhance their spot with a win over the Wildcats.  Wright is hoping his team will match Seton Hall’s desperation.

“That shouldn’t affect us,” Wright said.  “We should play at a level where we’re desperate every night.  That’s kind of what experienced teams learn.  We’re learning it through some losses right now,  You could learn it through winning.  We just haven’t done that.”

 

 

 

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