March 14, 2017

Villanova may have an opponent no overall No. 1 seed deserves - weather.

The Wildcats open play Thursday but there may be an outside influence on that game.

A major snowstorm is expected to hit the Northeast on Tuesday and that means a tough trip from Philadelphia to Buffalo, even for the defending national champions.

''We're looking at leaving tomorrow night right now to try to get out of here before the snow hits on Tuesday,'' Wright said Sunday.

The Wildcats open against the winner of the First Four game between Mount Saint Mary's and New Orleans on Tuesday.

''We'll have the team watch it. We'll watch it together and then we'll still break it down. We'll have the assistants break it down,'' Wright said. ''It's actually tougher. You don't have as much time to prepare.''

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HOTTEST TEAM:

If you're looking for the East region's hottest team you have to go all the way down to the No. 6 seed - SMU.

The Mustangs have won 16 straight - including three games in the American Athletic Conference Tournament - and 26 of their last 27.

''Our confidence is very high,'' Sterling Brown said. ''We just go out there and do what we do. We're gelling on and off the floor and it's showing. I feel like we're going to make a good run in the tournament.''

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HOME COOKING:

If second-seeded Duke beats No. 15 Troy and seventh-seeded South Carolina beats No. 10 Marquette, the Blue Devils would face the Gamecocks in the second round in Greenville, South Carolina.

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BIG INJURY:

Florida has had to play without center John Egbunu who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a game at Auburn.

The 6-foot-11 redshirt junior, averaged 7.8 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds this season. The Gators had won seven straight games when Egbunu was hurt. They won two more then closed the season losing three of four, the last two to Vanderbilt.

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WHICH BAYLOR?:

Baylor is the No. 3 seed, a spot many argued they didn't deserve after closing the season by losing four of their last seven including a quarterfinal loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Bears started the season with 15 wins and 19 of 20. But down the stretch there were two losses to Kansas State, one of the last four teams selected for the NCAA Tournament, and one to Texas Tech, which is not in the NCAA field.

''So now we have to get back to what we were doing, and, you know, maybe how we were being collectively together as a team early on in the year and get back to that feeling,'' sophomore guard Jake Lindsey said.

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TIRED DUKE:

The Blue Devils won four games in four days to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament . Even though they don't open play against Troy until Friday, how will coach Mike Krzyzewski handle his team being tired?

''One thing is we adjust how much we give them in a scouting report. It becomes less because there's less time,'' he said. ''We're at the end of the season, so they're accustomed to that.

''Winning championships is not easy. So whatever you need to do to be tough, it's not about being motivated now. They are motivated. They're tired. The other team is really good. How are we going to be tough right now?''

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SHORT TAKE:

Mount Saint Mary's will have one of the smallest players in the field in 5-foot-5 Junior Robinson, the Mountaineers' second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per game.

Robinson is second in assists (2.9) and second in steals (66).

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SEAHAWKS REPEAT:

UNCW is 1-5 in its five previous NCAA Tournaments, winning its first-round game in 2002 against No. 4 seed Southern California before losing in the second round to Indiana.

The Seahawks repeated as Colonial Athletic Association champions and last year they lost 93-85 to fourth-seeded Duke. It would take three wins for a rematch in this year's East region Sweet Sixteen.

''This is definitely a confidence boost,'' C.J. Bryce, a sophomore named the tournament's most outstanding player, said. ''As long as we stay focused, we'll be good.''

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