Villanova players flash their fingers in a “V’’ symbol to celebrate big wins. For coach Jay Wright, that’s a finger for every national championship ring.
Already cemented as a dominant program in college basketball, the Wildcats are flirting with putting their names on a more opulent D-list: dynasty.
The Wildcats’ romp through the NCAA Tournament that ended Monday with a second national title in three seasons has them up for debate as one of the top programs since the tourney field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
You know, the year the Wildcats won their first national title.
They finished atop the USA Today Top 25 poll, with Michigan second. Michigan State, which fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Syracuse, finished at No. 11.
There’s plenty of time to talk about Villanova’s place in history after the partying is done this week.
Players were treated like rock stars Tuesday night as they made their way into the ancient Jake Nevin Field House for a celebration. A parade downtown is planned for Thursday.
“What’s better than this?” coach Jay Wright said as the crowd roared.
The Wildcats were to return home to a raucous celebration at their suburban campus on Tuesday and a parade was planned for Thursday in downtown Philadelphia just hours before the Phillies’ home opener.
Parades have suddenly become a thing in Philly.
Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and breakout star Donte DiVincenzo helped the Wildcats win all six tournament games by double digits, joining Michigan State in 2000, Duke in 2001 and North Carolina in 2009. Villanova also joined the 1968 UCLA team as the only ones to win both their Final Four games by 16 or more points.
“I knew we were good, but you don’t think we can win this,” Wright said.
The Wildcats set a program best in wins (36-4) and won an NCAA-record 136 games over a four-year span.
And if anyone is still stumped about how Villanova could be considered on the short list of college basketball’s blue bloods following a decade of dominance, consider:
■ In the post-John Wooden/UCLA era, only three other teams have won two titles in three seasons: Duke in 1991 and 1992, Florida in 2006 and 2007 and Kentucky in 1996 and 1998. Villanova became just the ninth program to win three championships (1985 and ’16) and has made three Final Fours since 2009.
■ In the last five seasons, the Wildcats have four regular-season Big East titles, three Big East tournament titles and two national championships.
Wright leads a loaded roster fully positioned to go back-to-back and show college basketball that Duke and Kentucky and Kansas and North Carolina can all be rolled into one program nestled in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Duke is ranked No. 1 and national champion Villanova falls to No. 3 in an Associated Press way-too-early poll for next season. AP basketball writer John Marshall says the ranking is his best guess, considering much can change over the next seven months.
San Diego coach upbeat
Sam Scholl believes he’s taking over a team on the upswing.
The University of San Diego Toreros finished this season 20-14 and return 15 of 16 players, including Isaiah Pineiro, who was named to the All-West Coast Conference first team after averaging 15.7 points and 6.2 rebounds.
“We have a very strong foundation,” Scholl said Tuesday as he was introduced as San Diego’s new head coach. “And we are going to win every day in every way”
Scholl, a USD assistant at the start of the season, was elevated to acting head coach on Feb. 26 after coach Lamont Smith was arrested for investigation of domestic violence. Smith resigned 10 days later even though charges weren’t filed.
Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright is suspended from the Wildcats basketball team after being charged when someone allegedly fired shots from his car in January.
... Guard Isaiah Moss has joined fellow Iowa sophomore Tyler Cook in plans for early entry in the NBA draft, a process designed to gauge professional interest.
... Kentucky freshman forward PJ Washington says he will enter the NBA draft but not hire an agent, leaving open a possible return for his sophomore season.
... West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate plans to enter the NBA draft but also won’t hire an agent.
... Former Missouri State coach Paul Lusk will join Creighton’s staff as an assistant.