UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Villanova is exercising maximum scheduling flexibility. Approximately two hours after the third-ranked Wildcats beat No. 18 Arizona State 83-74 Thursday night to win the 2K Empire Classic tournament, Jay Wright and his team made the decision to extend their stay in "Bubbleville" at Mohegan Sun and added a game vs. Virginia Tech on Saturday, a source told CBS Sports.
There were rumblings prior to Thanksgiving night's big matchup between the Wildcats and Sun Devils that Villanova was contemplating getting another game in here. The reason was Temple. That school announced Thursday that its men's basketball team would be going on pause due to a positive test "within the program."
Temple was scheduled to play Virginia Tech on Saturday at Mohegan Sun, but that game could no longer happen. Plus: Villanova was scheduled to play at home vs. Temple on Dec. 3. The Wildcats and Hokies both needed to fill a game on the schedule. They could both be in Uncasville. The stars aligned.
So, according to a source, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Virginia Tech will play No. 3 Villanova at Mohegan Sun Arena. Due to the volume of football games on the slate, Villanova-Virginia Tech is scheduled to be played on ESPNews.
Consider this pivot a preview of the season to come. College basketball is going to have hundreds of games postponed and/or canceled over the next three-plus months. When that happens, opportunity will knock to fill in those open dates. Prior to agreeing to stay and play Virginia Tech, Wright told me it was his preferred option to stick around (if someone would play Villanova; the Wildcats look pretty good through two games).
"If we can get the game in, why wouldn't we?" Wright said. "We're already here."
Credit Wright and his team not just for adding another game, but agreeing to play a power-conference team. Villanova is not running from anything. He's also right that it's prudent to just get the games in when you can. This is as close to a guarantee as you're going to get: seize the moment and play the games.
It's almost got a who's-got-next pickup ball ethos to it, which is kind of cool.
The improvisational nature of this matchup speaks to the heart of scheduling and the go-with-the-flow attitude of the season that coaches have told me is effectively a job requirement at this point. This year, 2020, has been unique to our modern way of living on this planet. In the context of college basketball, schools are forced to take it hour-by-hour. Lose a game? Schedule on the fly and be willing to do what you can to get in opponents when you can.
Organizers from Mohegan Sun, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and the Gazelle Group should not be overlooked in all of this. We are two days into the Bubbleville experience and the reviews are good. It hasn't been completely flawless (Stephen F. Austin had to leave within hours of arriving after it had one positive test, and Maine had a positive test from two days prior to arriving that forced it to bail), but Virginia coach Tony Bennett, Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, San Francisco coach Todd Golden and Boston College coach Jim Christian were all in agreement along with Wright: this setup is the best way to get your games in with safety and security and peace of mind at hand.
Yes, the protocols are strict. Coaches and players cannot even leave their rooms without a security escort for anything. But these are the measures that need to be taken to give Bubbleville -- and all college basketball events in a controlled environment -- a real chance at succeeding for days and weeks at a time.
So one of the best teams in the country is going to try to keep it going against another high-powered offense. Mike Young runs a high-octane, 3-point-happy system. On Thursday, Villanova was able to shut Arizona State down, doing so thanks to an outrageously impressive performance from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who went for 28 points and eight rebounds on 11-of-17 shooting. Nova managed to hold ASU star Remy Martin to only five points. It's likely Martin won't have a worse game the rest of his senior season.
VU got a good push from Boston College on Wednesday before Robinson-Earl went to town late and helped his team glide past the upset-minded Eagles. Robinson-Earl has been as impressive as any player in college basketball through two games. It makes sense Villanova would want to keep the mojo going, stick around at Mohegan Sun a little longer and try to pick up a third win in four days. Expect other teams to follow once similar circumstances arise.