The Pittsburgh Panthers are tied in the Big East with the Villanova Wildcats. Although Pittsburgh is ranked and has wins over No. 6 Syracuse, No. 19 Georgetown, and No. 17 Cincinnati, Villanova has wins over No. 3 Syracuse and No. 5 Louisville, but no other ranked wins.
However, Pittsburgh has already faced much of its difficult and ranked opposition already this season winning some and losing some. Villanova has pulled off a few upsets, but lost to some lower-Big East teams, such as Providence twice. Villanova is about to go through a stretch where they play No. 17 Marquette and No. 11 Georgetown. The wins against Syracuse and Louisville prove that, although Pittsburgh is more consistent, Villanova is a better tournament team.
It is impossible to win games in the NCAA tournament without consistent rebounding, and the Panthers have lost close games due to their poor rebounding ability. Villanova has much better rebounders than the Panthers, setting up a scenario in which the Wildcats would succeed in the NCAA, but wouldn’t make the tournament due to lack of consistency.
The Panthers and the Wildcats both play each other on March 3, but whichever team wins doesn’t really matter to either team except Villanova. Neither team is capable of winning the Big East, Pittsburgh is already in the tournament, and Villanova has to win two of the four to make the NCAA tournament. Villanova is built for a deeper tournament run, but Pittsburgh has been more consistent all season.
Sometimes consistency outranks talent, and the Panthers will benefit from that on selection day.