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.