With all of the basketball history at Villanova, it’s hard to believe the Wildcats had never been the No. 1-ranked team in the country in the 67-year history of the Associated Press poll until yesterday.
It’s not necessarily surprising the program hadn’t quite reached the top yet in the highly successful Jay Wright era, if only because it’s fresh in the memory how those years have been included repeated NCAA trips with moderate success, save for a Final Four in 2009 and an Elite Eight in 2006. The program’s history goes back far, though, even well before the famous Rollie Massimino in the 1980s.
We’re talking about a school that has 36 NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 Elite Eight trips, four Final Fours and, yes, one glorious national championship in 1985. According to research from collegepollarchive.com, only four schools have been No. 2 more times without ever being No. 1 than Villanova-Maryland, Purdue, Dayton and St. Bonaventure.
That’s right-the Wildcats leapfrog three spots to the top kept the Terrapins from extinguishing what is far and away the most times at No. 2 without being ranked first. Maryland’s move up to second on Monday marked the 26th time it has been ranked second without ever being No. 1 (the AP does not conduct a poll after the NCAA Tournament; if it did, it would’ve certainly put the Terps first in 2002 after their national championship).
- In other news, Buddy Hield is having a year to remember. The undeniable national player of the year favorite threw a dagger at Texas with a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to give Oklahoma a 63-60 comeback win.
- Duke built a 15-point lead against Louisville and then lost it all before holding on for a 72-65 win. Also in the ACC, Notre Dame stayed a step ahead of Clemson the whole way in an 89-83 win on the road. Zach Auguste scored 19 for the Irish, almost all in the second half, and helped offset 30 from the Tigers’ Jaron Blossomgame.
- Tennessee-Chattanooga improved to 22-3 with a 72-66 win in overtime at Mercer. That’s five wins in the last 10 days for the Mocs, a feat that will not get near the credit it deserves. Which also pretty much sums up Chattanooga this year so far.
- Wofford set an NCAA record for three-point percentage in a game, hitting 17 of 21 triples in an easy 92-60 win over VMI. Fletcher Magee hit nine of them, scoring a career-high 34 points.
- Make it 16 straight wins for Stony Brook, which continued the longest winning streak in the nation with an 85-72 win over Hartford and Pancake Thomas, who scored 23 for the Hawks. The Seawolves’ Jameel Warney was even better, though, with a career-best 36 points plus 13 rebounds in an exquisite performance.
- What a night in the SWAC, where four games were all decided by three points or less or in overtime. The dandiest of four dandies was Jackson State defeating Southern 81-80 as Chace Franklin banked in a 25-footer just before the buzzer to pull the Tigers into a tie for second in the league with the Jaguars.
- The news at UNLV just gets worse: skilled freshman center Stephen Zimmerman is out indefinitely with a sprained knee suffered on Saturday against Fresno State. Zimmerman-who is projected to be a high draft pick whenever he declares for the NBA- is averaging 10.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game
- St. Peter’s point guard Trevis Wyche missed the Peacocks’ 68-52 win over Quinnipiac Monday night, resting an ankle he injured Friday night against Siena. Wyche is averaging 12.2 points and 4.8 assists per game.
- Also from Saturday, Hoopville’s Phil Kasiecki recorded another podcast with Ted Sarandis that you can access here.
- The Big 12 takes center stage yet again with West Virginia at Kansas in a matchup of top 10 teams (7 p.m., ESPN2). One of the beauties of a double round-robin schedule is that first meetings in a season are easy reference points, and WVU won the first time these two played in January.
- Another prime game is in the Big Ten as Michigan State goes to Purdue (7 p.m., ESPN). The Spartans are starting to return to form, and it’s not even March yet.
- Pittsburgh continues a brutal three-game stretch but could pick up a really impressive win if it could take down Miami (Fla.) on the road (7 p.m., ESPNU).
- Akron is looking more and more like the best team in the MAC, but the Zips have a tricky road test when they go to Bowling Green.
- Xavier moved into the top five in the AP poll on Monday, but the Musketeers now must go to Creighton (8 p.m., CBSSN). Also, Villanova gets its first test as No. 1 when it goes to DePaul (8:30 p.m., FS1), which has extinguished several ranked teams at home already this year.
- In the SEC, Georgia is at Kentucky (9 p.m., ESPN), while Mississippi can play spoiler when it goes to Florida (9 p.m., ESPNU).
- Finally, ESPN’s tradition of showing Sun Belt games continues with Texas-Arlington at Texas State (9 p.m., ESPN2). The network has had a partnership with the conference since 1979, its very first year.
Enjoy your Tuesday.