Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beyond the Numbers...St. Joseph

Setting Down the Calculator...
The subject of St. Patrick's Day and how Villanova fares on that day has been the subject of more than a few discussions on the Nova Nation message boards (Bench Warmers & the subscriber-only Nova Nation board) over the years. Actually the discussions usually begin right around this time, as those saint days normally fall within the the window of the post season tournaments. Villanova's first post season, in the inaugural NCAA tournament, was played on St. Patrick's day of 1939 in the Palestra on the University of Pennsylvania campus. The Wildcats beat Brown 42-30 to advance to the national semi-final game against Ohio State. Little wonder then that Villanovans often believe there is a special connection between their Wildcats and the patron saint of Ireland, a notion encouraged no doubt by the fact that many immigrant families from the Emerald Isle sent their sons (and daughters) to be educated on the Main Line.

Less well known is the Feast of St. Joseph, celebrated on March 19th, two days after the Feast of St. Patrick. St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is especially honored in Sicily, having been credited with delivering the island from a famine in the Middle Ages.

And Picking up the Calendar...
The Wildcats and Eagles will tangle on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. Villanova will play the game in the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, the downtown pro arena they frequently use use to host the marquee opponents on their schedule. While it is well known that NCAA rules prohibit a team from playing a tournament game in a facility where they have played more than 3 "home" games during the season, a lesser known rule also requires a college (or conference) be named the "official host" for each facility used in the tournament. And that rule also prohibits a (men's) team from playing in the facility when they are the host school. Villanova had the foresight to cap at 3 the number of games they played in the Wachovia Center this season (a 4th downtown game was scheduled into the Spectrum, due to be demolished later this year) even though few thought the Wildcats would be seeded high enough to warrant deference when assigning pods and sites. As for the official host of the Wachovia Center? Fellow Big 5 member St. Joseph's University offered to be host when the bid was prepared. So Villanova will play American University in a downtown arena hosted by St. Joseph's University on...St. Joseph's Day.

The Feast of St. Joseph by the Numbers...
Villanova has played 6 post season games on St. Joseph's Day, going 5-1 (.833) on the Patron Saint of Sicily's feast day. The record...

1966ArmyMadison Sq76-65WNIT
1978DukeProvidence RI72-90LNCAA
1982MemphisRaliegh NC70-65WNCAA
1983LamarHouston TX60-58WNCAA
2002Louisiana TechPavilion67-64WNT

1966 was the first post season game played on St. Joseph's Day, a resounding win over a Bobby Knight coached Army team in the NIT semi-finals. The last was against Arizona in the Wachovia Center, the 2nd round game in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The lone loss was at the hands of Duke in an NCAA regional final game played in Providence, RI in the 1978 NCAA Regional Finals. And St. Patrick? Despite the promising beginning, the Patron Saint of Irish has been a bit less benevolent over the years, as the Wildcats have a 6-6 record in games played on St. Patrick's Day.

No comments: