Ryan Arcidiacono

Villanova lets resume-building opportunity slip from its grasp

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For the second time in six days the Villanova Wildcats failed to seal the deal on the road, and that leaves Jay Wright’s team with a lot of work to do in their quest to return to the NCAA tournament.

A Talib Zanna offensive rebound eventually led to a James Robinson three pointer with 32 seconds remaining in regulation, and No. 23 Pittsburgh would score 16 points in the extra session to beat the Wildcats 73-64 at the Petersen Events Center.

While the Panthers (23-7, 11-6 Big East) are a safe bet to go to the NCAA tournament and remain in contention for the final double-bye in the Big East tournament, the same cannot be said for Villanova (18-12, 9-8). The Wildcats needed this one, and the loss makes their regular season finale against No. 7 Georgetown on Wednesday even more important.

Ryan Arcidiacono scored 24 points and Mouphtaou Yarou added 14 for the Wildcats but off afternoons from James Bell and Darrun Hilliard  (combined 2-of-15 FG) help prevent Villanova from taking advantage of a Panther team playing without starting center Steven Adams.

There’s no shame in losing at Pittsburgh, especially when Zanna (14 points, 19 rebounds) plays as he did on Senior Day for both Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor. But after the loss at Seton Hall, Villanova needed to bounce back and they had a chance to late.

The Wildcats have some good wins on their resume, most notably home wins over Louisville, Syracuse and Marquette. But there are also bad losses such as an 18-point loss to Columbia and Monday’s loss in Newark.

A win over Pitt would have given the Wildcats some separation when compared to other bubble teams, many of whom did more to hurt their cause this weekend than help. Yet Villanova failed to do so, and as a result they find themselves with more work to do but with one less opportunity to state their case.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: