Marquette seeks to sweep its regular-season series with Villanova when the Golden Eagles travel to the Wildcats on Wednesday evening.
TV schedule: Wednesday, February 27, 9:00 pm ET. FS1.
Arena: Finneran Pavilion in Villanova, Pa.
A pair of Big East Conference powerhouses trending in different directions will do battle on Wednesday night in a tilt that has significant ramifications for the league race. No. 10 Marquette (23-4, 12-2) is making a trip to Villanova (20-8, 11-4), the defending national champions.
The Golden Eagles are in a groove, having captured four consecutive contests. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are slumping, as they’ve fallen three instances in a row. At this juncture, Marquette finds itself at the top of the Big East, with a lead of 1.5 games over second-place Villanova.
Earlier this month, the Golden Eagles snuck by the Wildcats, 66-65, on their own turf. Should the Golden Eagles emerge victorious at Villanova, Marquette would secure the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament, and at least a share of the Big East regular-season title.
So far in the 2018-19 campaign, the Golden Eagles are 6-2 on the road, and they have an NCAA NET rating of No. 18. The Wildcats, on the other hand, are 11-2 at home and possess an NCAA NET ranking of No. 28. As it presently stands, Marquette is thought of by the majority of bracketologists as a No. 3 seed in March Madness and Villanova is deemed a No. 7 seed.
The Wildcats have won two of the past three national championships, but I’m not entirely surprised to see them struggle a bit this term. They saw numerous talented players head to the NBA before this stanza began, and when Villanova shoots poorly from the perimeter, its opponents are able to expose the Wildcats, which has resulted in a string of recent defeats.
Despite that, Villanova has a 66.6% chance to prevail versus the Golden Eagles, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. From a statistical perspective, this duo of programs is evenly matched in a lot of categories.
Two critical facets, in my estimation, are 3-point shooting and turnovers. Marquette connects on 40 percent from beyond the arc, and, if it gets hot from downtown, watch out. However, one dilemma for the Golden Eagles is that they commit nearly 14 miscues per affair, and the Wildcats must convert such mistakes into easy transition buckets. Ultimately, I think that Marquette has too much offensive firepower for Villanova, and the Golden Eagles will best the Wildcats.
Prediction: Marquette 73 – Villanova 68