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Wildcats thrown back into pack for last NCAA tournament top seed

The Villanova Wildcats had a chance to suck the drama out of the race for the last NCAA tournament top seed. But on March 13, the Wildcats stumbled, then recovered, and then got stunned by the lowly Seton Hall Pirates to start the Big East tournament. While losing at the buzzer by 64-63 to the .500 Pirates may not knock the Wildcats from a No. 1 seed on its own, there's now plenty of time for other teams to overtake them.

Villanova Wildcats: Buzzer-beater loss to Pirates leaves Jay Wright, Wildcats extremely vulnerable.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Wildcats may pay for buzzer-beater upset to Pirates
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Villanova first opened the door for them by facing an early double-digit deficit to Seton Hall. The Wildcats chipped away at the lead in the second half and seemed poised to take control with a 16-0 run. But the Pirates hung around right to the last minute, taking the lead back on a three-pointer by Jaren Sina with 17 seconds left.

Yet the Wildcats got on the brink of survival when Darrun Hilliard made a floating shot with seven seconds left. Once the Pirates pushed the ball up court and called timeout with under four seconds left, all the Wildcats needed was one stop to survive and keep the status quo intact. Instead, Sterling Gibb gave Seton Hall the signature moment of championship week with an 18-foot buzzer beater.

Losing to the 16-16 Pirates wasn't enough to knock the Wildcats down, at least according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi. But while he still has Villanova as the top seed in the East, there's still three days left for other challengers to make a leap. If even one of them wins their conference tournament, that might be enough.

The Kansas Jayhawks almost lost their chance to make the leap, thanks to a scare from the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Yet thanks to Andrew Wiggins' 30 points, the Jayhawks withstood a second upset loss to the Cowboys this year, prevailing by 77-70 in overtime.

Despite eight losses and despite losing to Villanova early in the season, Kansas still has a chance to overtake them by winning the Big 12 tournament. If not the Jayhawks, then the winner of the Big Ten or ACC could be the one to do it, assuming form holds.

The accompanying slideshow lists the teams that still have hopes of taking the last No. 1 seed going into the weekend -- even those whose fate is now out of their hands.

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