(17) Marquette (19-6) at Villanova (17-10)
Saturday, February 23, 6 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pavilion (6,500) -- Villanova, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: MU 14-0, VU 10-4. Away Record: MU 3-5, VU 6-5. Neutral Record: MU 2-1, VU 1-1. Conference Record: MU 10-3, VU 8-6. Series Record: Villanova leads, 11-9.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams seeking to extend modest winning streaks meet on the Main Line on Saturday evening, as the 17th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles come calling on the Villanova Wildcats for a Big East Conference affair.
Marquette is enjoying another impressive campaign, the team sporting a 19-6 overall record and a 10-3 mark in conference. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 67-46 rout at Seton Hall, giving them back-to-back wins and four in their last five games overall. MU has lost two of its last three outside of Milwaukee however, giving it a record of just 3-5 in true road tilts this season.
While logging a positive record of its own, Villanova (17-10, 8-6) is a hard team to figure out as it has some huge wins over the likes of Louisville, Syracuse and UConn, but has also lost twice to Providence. Still, the Wildcats are in position to make some noise come Big East Tournament time, and they are coming off a solid win of their own, 71-63 over visiting Rutgers on Monday. Overall, VU has won two straight, four of its last five, and the team is 10-4 at home this season.
Villanova leads the all-time series with Marquette, 11-9, but the Golden Eagles have won three of the last four meetings. The Wildcats are 4-0 versus MU at The Pavilion.
Vander Blue scored 19 points and Jamil Wilson nearly logged a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, as Marquette whipped Seton Hall earlier this week. The Golden Eagles drained 49.1 percent of their total shots, despite going just 5-of-15 from beyond the arc, and they hammered the Pirates on the glass, 43-24. Seton Hall managed just a 29.4 percent shooting effort, and the home team was outscored in the paint (38-14), off turnovers (19-10), in second-chance points (16-5) and in bench points (30-14). Blue (15.0 ppg) continues to pace MU in scoring, although he could probably stand to take fewer long-range shots seeing as how he has connected on only 29-of-94 3- point attempts (.309). Davante Gardner is the team's only other double-digit scorers, checking in at 12.0 ppg, and he paces its rebounding effort with 5.0 rpg, doing all that despite coming off the bench in all 25 games this season. As a team, the Golden Eagles net 69.7 ppg while permitting 62.2 ppg, and they are shooting a solid 46.6 percent from the field, despite shooting a Big East- worst 30.2 percent from 3-point land.
Villanova trailed Rutgers by 10 points at the break, but used a 50-point second half to thwart the upset-minded Scarlet Knights in what turned out to be a satisfying home win for the Wildcats. Three players scored 14 points apiece for VU, which shot 44.2 percent from the field, connecting on 8-of-20 3-point attempts along the way. The 'Cats won the game despite being outrebounded (33-29), due in large part to a 56.5 percent shooting effort over the final 20 minutes, coupled with the fact that they turned the ball over only seven times in the game. The trio of James Bell, Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard combined to hit all eight of the team's threes. JayVaughn Pinkston (12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is the team's leading scorer this season, while Arcidiacono (11.7 ppg, 3.4 apg) is close behind. Hilliard (11.3 ppg, 40 steals) has also been productive, as has Mouphtaou Yarou (9.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg), the latter of whom has seen his stats against Big East foes rise to 10.0 ppg and 9.4 rpg. Villanova averages 68.9 ppg while yielding 65.1 ppg, and the team is +4.2 in rebounding margin, but -1.07 in turnover differential.
Marquette is probably the better all-around team, but Villanova plays well at home and certainly has the talent to win this game. Expect that to happen as the Wildcats put another feather in their cap and give the hometown faithful yet another reason to smile.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 71, Marquette 69
02/23 10:31:08 ET