|Will 2012-13 Villanova resemble the team from a year ago, or the better teams of the Jay Wright era? (Getty Images)|
Is Villanova a 2013 NCAA tournament team? I don't think so right now, but if the Wildcats do manage to make a good season out of the upcoming one, they could see their hard work rewarded by savvy scheduling.
Once again, the NCAA tournament will make a first-weekend stop at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center. This affects Villanova in that NCAA rules determine no team can play tournament games at its home arena. And how is a "home arena" defined? Simply, if you've played more than three games in a given venue during that season, it's home turf regardless of distance to campus or any other factor.
Normally 'Nova tries to fit in as many games at Wells Fargo -- where the 76ers play -- as it can because the joint holds so many more people than the quaint on-campus Pavilion. But this season, just like in 2008-09 and '05-06, it'll only be thrice used. Villanova went to the Final Four three years ago and the Elite Eight in '06, so even if coincidental, it's been good luck for this program as of late when the bracket map is connected to Philly.
All three 2012-13 games will be Big East tilts. Louisville comes to town on Jan. 22, Syracuse just four days later, on Jan. 26, and Georgetown rounds it out in the regular-season finale on March 6. 'Nova had its worst year under Wright last season, finishing 13-19. It was also the first time the Wildcats were below .500 during his tenure.
Now, the only way this all could benefit Villanova is if the Wildcats are good enough to be a top-five seed. The NCAA tournament selection committee does its best to geographically afford the higher-seeded teams, one through five, with as little travel as possible. But let's say Villanova goes 20-11 and is a borderline 10 seed. If that's the case, it'll be shipped elsewhere seeing how it shouldn't be afforded a home court advantage over a team with a better seed.
Villanova is the only team directly affected by this circumstance for the upcoming season. Texas, Georgetown and Kentucky's home arenas will also be tourney sites, but of course those schools have no other legitimate option for home games. If they qualify for the NCAAs, they'll be shipped anywhere but their respective towns. Texas and UK have first-weekend hosting responsibilities, while Georgetown has the more "controversial" regionals to tend to. The Hoyas' only real viable home option is the Verizon Center, so they give up their right to the region regardless, meaning if they play to the Sweet 16 they'll go to Dallas, Indianapolis or LA.