Thursday, March 17, 2011

Between Patrick & Joseph -- Villanova's Record on March 18

The Pause Between the Feasts...
While folks have mulled the subject of Villanova's record on St. Patrick's Day and even lately (ok here) the Wildcats' record on St. Joseph's Day, the day that separates the two has gone largely undocumented. Late enough in March to consist entirely of post season games, in fact Villanova's first post season tournament, the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1939, was played over this two day time period. While the Wildcats were victorious on St. Patrick's day 1939, defeating Brown 42-30, when they moved on to the first National Semi-Final, they were eliminated by Ohio State, 36-53, on the Palestra floor the following night.

After that first NCAA appearance, Villanova and March 18 went on a 29 year hiatus. Villanova continued to play in the post season, and March 18 continued to serve as a play date for the NCAA and NIT. The twain just didn't meet again until 1968 in the NIT quarter-finals, when Villanova lost to Kansas, 49-55, at Madison Square Garden. Since "breaking the ice", the Wildcats have played on March 18 seven more times in the ensuing 43 years.

March 18 by the Numbers...
Villanova has played nine post season games on March 18, going 4-5 (0.444) on the Day Between the Feasts. The record...

1939Ohio StatePalestra39-53LNCAA
1968KansasMadison Square Garden49-55LNIT
1971FordhamRaliegh NC85-75WNCAA
1972South CarolinaMorgantown, WV78-90LNCAA
1988ArkansasCincinnati, OH82-74WNCAA
2005New MexicoNashville, TN55-47WNCAA
2010Robert MorrisProvidence, RI73-70WNCAA

The abundace of losses, especially when compared to St. Patrick (6-6) and St. Joseph (6-1) is intriguing as Villanova has a winning record in both the NCAA (49-31, 0.613) and the NIT (24-17, 0.585). The timing -- March 18 was the date for second and later round games (in both tournaments) through 1972. Which explains, to some degree, Villanova's less than stellar 1-3 record through that period. Note the games from 1988 through the present, played on March 18, are opening round games. Villanova's record through that period is 3-2. Let's hope the Wildcats can continue the opening round winning trend, and even the record in 2011.

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