The Sixers can basically kill the Washington Wizards' season tonight

The Sixers can basically kill the Washington Wizards' season tonight

Now that their miraculous season-beginning three-game winning streak has come to an end in thudding fashion, we should be able to get back to our normal ways of expecting the worst from this Philadelphia 76ers team at just about every opportunity. Their first opportunity to once again live down to expectations comes tonight against the Washington Wizards, already in their second matchup this year, with the Sixers taking the surprise 109-102 victory five days ago in Washington.

While the Sixers have already exceeded fan hopes for their entire season in the space of three games, the Wizards are in the unfortunate spot of their results thusfar being well, well below expectation, as their franchise and its young core was expected to take the next step towards playoff contention this season, but has instead started 0-3, with injuries (veteran bigs Emeka Okafor and Nene, highly touted rookie forward Otto Porter) and a surprise pre-season deal many dubbed a panic trade (swapping the expiring contract of the injured Okafor with a future draft pick for offensive-minded center Marcin Gortat) further adding to the team's desperation.

If the Sixers win tonight, bringing the Washington record to 0-4, it could be a fairly deadly blow to the team's post-season aspirations, even this early on. After Philly, Washington has the championship-aspirant Nets at home, then goes on a three-game West Coast swing against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs (combined record: 8-3). It's been suggested that if the Wizards lose tonight, Washington coach Randy Wittman might not survive the trip out West.

As in the teams' matchup last week the question for this game is two-fold: Can we contain their explosive young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and can their depleted frontlines handle the post play of our Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes? The answers last week were both "Yes for one half, no for the other," with Thad and Spence just getting the last word, but tonight, in a do-or-die matchup with the Sixers' momentum finally slowed a little, it'll be tough to get the edge a second time.

7:00 tip from the WFC. Will the tanking officially commence tonight, or is this team not done playing over their heads? Do we even know which one we're rooting for? Guess we'll find out tonight.

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 76, Seton Hall 46

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 76, Seton Hall 46

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Back at No. 1, Villanova looked every bit like the best team in the country.

The Wildcats — who earlier in the day regained their top spot in the rankings after a week at No. 3 — demolished Seton Hall, 76-46, in a Big East matchup Monday night at the Pavilion.

The win was the fourth straight for Villanova (18-1, 6-1), the 1,700th in program history, and the 47th straight at the Pavilion, setting an all-time record. The previous mark of 46 was established between January 2007 and 2011. 

Leading by 13 at halftime, Villanova put its foot on the gas to start the second half, jumping out to a 53-26 advantage on a Kris Jenkins three-pointer followed by a baseline slam from Donte DiVincenzo.

The hot-shooting Wildcats continued to pour it on from there, with Jenkins hitting a couple of more tough threes to put Villanova up by a whopping 65-31 margin with 10:33 left.

Seton Hall (12-6, 2-4) closed a three-game road trip with losses in all three games.

Big men on campus
Jenkins led the way with 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting from behind the arc. He joined Jalen Brunson (13 points), Josh Hart (11 points), Eric Paschall (10 points) and DiVincenzo (10 points) in double figures.

All seven of the players in head coach Jay Wright’s seven-man rotation finished with at least eight points as Darryl Reynolds had eight points and nine rebounds and Mikal Bridges had eight points and seven rebounds.

Desi Rodriguez was the only Seton Hall player to hit double figures with 15 points.

By the numbers
• Villanova shot 47.4 percent from the field and 46.2 percent (12 for 26) from three-point range, while Seton Hall shot 29.1 and 25 percent.

• The Wildcats had nine steals and scored 27 points off 16 Seton Hall turnovers. 

• Villanova only missed one of its 11 free throw attempts.

First half
Seton Hall led 5-4 before Villanova went on a 13-0 run to take control, capped by a fantastic one-handed putback slam from Reynolds. 

The Wildcats extended their lead to 25-7 as Seton Hall struggled to make anything. Consecutive threes from Rodriguez gave the Pirates a glimmer of life late in the first half, but the Wildcats still took a comfortable 36-23 lead into halftime.

Hall trouble
The Pirates have more victories over Villanova than any Big East team since the new version of the league was launched in 2013, beating the Wildcats three times. One of those wins was in last year’s Big East Tournament title game at Madison Square Garden, Villanova’s final loss in 2015-16 before its magical run to the national title.

Seton Hall has had far less success at the Pavilion, however, with their last win there coming all the way back in 1994. 

Simmons in the house
Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was on hand to see the No. 1 team in the country. He sat courtside and took photos with fans at halftime. 

Up next
Villanova returns to action Saturday afternoon vs. Providence at the Wells Fargo Center.

Seton Hall goes home to welcome St. John’s on Sunday. 

Dario Saric: Joel Embiid 'has changed the sport in Philly,' deserves to be All-Star

Dario Saric: Joel Embiid 'has changed the sport in Philly,' deserves to be All-Star

Even Dario Saric is getting in on the Joel Embiid All-Star Game craze.

After the Sixers' 113-104 win over the Bucks Monday, Saric made the case for Embiid in a postgame interview with CSN's Molly Sullivan. 

"Joel, for sure, he deserves to be in All-Star Game ... he's the guy who changed the sport in Philly," Saric said.

"And if we get Ben [Simmons] to him, we got good couples for so many years."

Saric definitely trusts The Process.

"He deserve everything ... he's maybe the best big man in the league."

We'll find out if the fans like him as much as Saric does Monday at midnight when fan voting ends. 

Catch the full interview above for more.