Sunday , Mar , 12 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

‘Nova has eye on Final Four bid

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The news just keeps getting better for
Villanova.

Hours after learning that senior guard Allan Ray would be able to return to
the hardwood, the Wildcats were handed the No. 1 seed in the Minneapolis
bracket by the NCAA committee. Even sweeter, Jay Wright’s club found out that
they will open up play in their hometown of Philadelphia.

The ‘Cats will face the winner of Tuesday’s play-in game between Monmouth and
Hampton in the first round this coming Friday, and it appears that one of
their key players will be available for that contest.

Ray’s status for the rest of the season seemed grim after sustaining a soft
tissue injury to his right eye early in the second half of Villanova’s 68-54
semifinal loss to Pittsburgh Friday night in the Big East Tournament. He was
rushed immediately to the hospital and complained of lost vision.

After seeing a specialist on Saturday, however, Ray was cleared to resume non-
contact basketball activities.

“On behalf of Allan, his family and our basketball family, I would like to
thank everyone for the well-wishes and prayers Allan has received in the last
36 hours,” Wright said. “Obviously Allan is very fortunate to have come
through a potentially dangerous injury with these positive results.”

Villanova should be at full strength, which is essential if it hopes to
advance through a very competitive bracket.

Big Ten regular-season champion Ohio State is the No. 2 seed in the
Minneapolis region and will face No. 15 Davidson Friday in Dayton. Moving
upward, No. 7 Georgetown will square off against No. 10 Northern Iowa, with
the winner likely to meet the Buckeyes in round two.

The SEC Tournament champion Florida Gators loom in the bracket as well as the
No. 3 seed, and will start their quest Thursday in Jacksonville against No. 14
South Alabama. Should Florida advance past the first round as projected, it
will take on the winner of No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In Salt Lake City, 13th-seeded Pacific will play No. 4 Boston College, which
lost by just two points to Duke in Sunday’s ACC Tournament championship, on
Thursday. The winner will face either No. 12 Montana or No. 5 Nevada in the
second round.

If everything plays out according to plan, which is seldom the case in this
event, BC and Villanova — two former Big East rivals — would clash in the
Sweet 16.

First, though, the Wildcats will have to take down the play-in winner and
then scrap with either No. 8 Arizona or No. 9 Wisconsin in the second round.

The ‘Cats should hold up their end of the bargain, as they will have the fans
— and likely all of their weapons — at their disposal.