Monday, January 09, 2006

"It's So Tough to Go Undefeated"... #3 Villanova Proves Dick Vitale Right, As #24 West Virginia Wrecks #3 Wildcats' Perfect Season

by Craig Dimitri

No NCAA Division I team has gone undefeated, throughout the NCAA tournament, since Bob Knight's 1976 Indiana Hoosiers accomplished the feat, during that Bicentennial celebratory year. In one of his most frequent musings, Dick Vitale often notes that "it's so tough to go undefeated," and he's absolutely right. And, accordingly, I would not be surprised to see the nation's Tricentennial come and go, without another team having matched the attainment.

And, regrettably, the 2006 Villanova Wildcats won't be the ones to do it, for the first time in three decades. On Sunday, #24 West Virginia handed the third-ranked 'Cats one of the rarest of all defeats - namely, a Pavilion loss, by the close margin of 91-87.

Granted, the students are still on break, so the Pavilion atmosphere was marginally less raucous, but just marginally. WVU's Joe Herber (23 points), Kevin Pittsnogle (22 points), and Mike Gansey (21 points) were the triumvirate responsible for pulling off the Mountaineers' upset, as Villanova simply could not shut them down. However, the Wildcats also fatally wounded their cause, by committing a season-high 22 turnovers. The two bright spots for 'Nova, were Randy Foye and Mike Nardi, who poured in 24 and 23 points, respectively.

West Virginia improved to 2-0 Big East, 10-3 overall; Villanova fell to 1-1 Big East, 10-1 overall. It was West Virginia's second defeat of a Top 10 school this year. Due to this defeat, the Wildcats failed to match the 12-0 start of the 1961-62 squad, as well as the 11-game winning streak of the 1995-96 team.

At this point, #3 Villanova can only await to see how far the national-ranking voters will drop them, due to this defeat, although it would be difficult to imagine how they could fall out of the Top 10, particularly since the loss was to another ranked school.

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