Marquette Golden Eagles at (7) Villanova Wildcats (-15, 131 o/u)
A Big East mismatch is on the schedule for tonight as the No. 7 Villanova Wildcats (19-2, 6-2 Big East) take on the Marquette Golden Eagles (10-11, 2-7 Big East) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia (7:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Wildcats started the year on fire and were one of the last remaining undefeated teams in the nation at the end of December. However, the team has dropped two games in Big East play and is now tied with Butler and Georgetown at the top of the conference. Villanova’s losses were both on the road (66-61 in OT at Seton Hall and a 78-58 blowout at Georgetown).
The team bounced back from the annihilation at Georgetown with double-digit wins over Creighton (71-50 at home) and DePaul (68-55 on the road).
The road win over DePaul was big for the Wildcats, who were just 2-2 away from home in Big East play up to that point. The team was down six at the break, but outscored the Blue Demons by 19 in the second half to run away with it.
“In the second half, I just tried to be more aggressive catching the ball and shooting,” said junior guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who was 5 of 8 from the field in the second frame. “Then they feared my jumper and, off that, I was able to get by some guys [on drives]. After I made a couple of those, I felt pretty good.”
The high-scoring Wildcats (75.3 points per game, 30th in the nation) find different ways to score every night, it seems. Only one player, Darrun Hilliard II (13.3 PPG), averages in double-figures, but six average over nine per game.
At 2-7 in Big East play, Marquette is wallowing near the bottom of the Big East standings. Their lone conference win on the year came against the only team lower in the standings: the 1-9 Creighton Blue Jays.
The Golden Eagles have lost five games in a row, but have been competitive most nights. In their last outing, the team suffered a heartbreaking 72-68 OT loss to No. 23 Butler. The week before, they lost in OT to Georgetown (95-85). Marquette also lost by four at Xavier (62-58) and by three at St. John’s (60-57) in mid-January.
The Wildcats are 15-points favorites for tonight’s game. Given Marquette’s penchant for keeping it close – and the fact that Villanova is just 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 at home against the Golden Eagles – taking Marquette and the points (+15) looks like the better option.
(Photo credit: Keith Lovett [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)