By JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Villanova began the season among the figurative favorites to reach the Final Four. The Wildcats were ranked No. 4 and boasted a veteran roster that reached all the way back to the 2018 national championship season. But by mid-December they had taken a beating from defending national champion Baylor and lost their Big East opener to Creighton. Coach Jay Wright said he put his team in a “bad spot” with brutal early schedule. The Wildcats’ veteran players shook it off to run all the way to the Elite Eight and a Saturday matchup with Houston.