Wednesday features a clash of the top two Big East teams as the No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-4, 12-2 in the Big East) travel to the Villanova Pavilion to take on the Villanova Wildcats (20-8, 11-4 in the Big East). This is a rematch of a game that took place on February 9th, where Marquette won 66-65 at home. In that game, Markus Howard had an unbelievable game for the Golden Eagles, scoring 38 points to lead all scorers. He also pulled down 6 rebounds and had 2 assists. For Villanova, they were led by guard Phil Booth with 19 points in the losing effort. These two teams will square off again Wednesday with tipoff scheduled for 9:00 pm ET.
Coming into this game, Marquette has won four in a row, including a 76-58 win over Providence on Saturday. A win at Villanova would likely seal the deal in terms of the Big East conference standings. For Villanova, they come in struggling, having lost four of their last five games, including a 66-54 loss in their last game Sunday at Xavier.
In this contest, the Villanova Wildcats come in as 3.5-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for this game is set at 143.5 points.
By The Numbers
On the defensive end, it is Villanova that ranks as the better team statistically. They are currently ranked 72nd in the nation, allowing 67.4 points per game. Marquette is not too bad, either. They currently rank 106th in the nation, allowing 68.6 points per game. Marquette can be especially tough in the interior, where they are averaging 4.7 blocked shots per game (tied for 30th) and 28.56 defensive rebounds per game (19th).
On the offensive side, Marquette comes in higher, averaging 78.9 points per game (good for 47th in the nation). They are especially efficient in their shooting, as are shooting 46.8%, which comes in at 65th. Villanova comes in at 120th in scoring, averaging 74.9 points per game.
Marquette Trying To Duplicate Success, This Time On The Road
Anytime that a player puts up 38 points, they are either really solid or they just got really lucky for a night. For junior guard Markus Howard, it might have been both. While he took over the first time they played Villanova, Howard has been shooting the ball well all season. He is currently averaging 25.3 points per game on 43.9% shooting. He is also shooting 43.6% from the three and 91.5% from the free throw line. Howard is also averaging 4.2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
When it isn’t Howard scoring, it is usually one of the Hauser brothers. Both of them are averaging double-digits, with Sam Hauser scoring 15.2 points on 47.6% shooting, 91.4% from the free throw line and 40.6% from behind the arc. Sam is also averaging 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. For Joey Hauser, he is averaging 10 points on 46.2% shooting. He is also shooting well from both the line (83.3%) and from behind the arc (45.2%). Joey is also averaging 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
Villanova Looking For Redemption At Home
With March fast approaching, Villanova needs to start to kick it into gear. Between their inconsistent play and losses start to pile up, the Wildcats are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to tourney seeding.
Leading the way for the Wildcats this season has been guard Phil Booth. On the season, Booth is averaging 18.4 points on 43.6% shooting. He is also averaging 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
The other two leading scorers for the Wildcats have been forward Eric Paschall and guard Collin Gillespie. For Paschall, he is averaging 17.3 points on 45.9% shooting, while also chipping in 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Gillespie is also averaging double-digit points with 11.2 points on 40.6% shooting. He is also adding 2.6 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Marquette And The Points
On the one hand, do I think that Markus Howard is going to go off for 38 points again…absolutely not. On the other hand, I do not trust Villanova and the way that they have been playing at all lately. Despite the fact that they are 11-2 at home, it would not shock me if Marquette came in and took care of business against the Wildcats. Regardless, I don’t see this one getting lopsided either way, which means I am taking the team getting spotted the points. For my money, I am going with Marquette at +3.5.