If there is one thing teams can count on in the Big East, it's the opportunity to claim quality wins that will matter on Selection Sunday.
Of course, while opportunity knocks regularly, so does disappointment in the nation's strongest basketball conference. Nevertheless, the Warriors will storm the court tonight looking for a marquee road win at Villanova in a match-up of the Big East's two highest scoring teams.
The Warriors (14-8) are riding the emotional high of a much-needed victory over the Syracuse Orange, pushing their record to a respectable 5-4 through the first half of Big East play. The Wildcats (17-3, 5-3) enter tonight's game hungry for a win. Villanova has lost two in a row and three of their last four. In those three losses, the Wildcats failed to reach the 70-point mark; an uncharacteristic swoon for such a high-powered team. Last time out, Georgetown escaped with a 69-66 win over Villanova in Philadelphia.
Villanova is once again one of the more balanced teams in the league. They have four players averaging double-figures, led by seniors Corey Fisher (16ppg) and designated marksman Corey Stokes (15 ppg). Unlike past Wildcat teams, this year's team has productive baseline players in Mouphtau Yarou (8 ppg, 7 rpg) and Antonio Pena (10ppg, 7 rpg). In today's blog from Rosiak Buzz notes that the mix of talent for Jay Wright has the Wildcats playing a bit differently.
Expect a shootout tonight. Both teams have excellent offenses, though MU fans can hold out hope that Villanova's recent struggles to score are more than just an anomaly. The one area where Marquette is weakest defensively (eFG%) is the one aspect of offense where 'Nova is weakest.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a seven point Wildcat win tonight and defense is the reason. Villanova holds opponnents to an eFG% of just 44.5, which is stifling. Still, the Wildcats do not force turnovers and MU is one of the nation's best offensive teams. Ultimately tonight's battle is strength against strength. Like most games, expect Marquette's Top 10 offense to keep things close but the #81 ranked defense probably won't be enough to win it. Root for more poor shooting from Villanova (or just enough defense) and continued offensive excellence from the Warriors, and perhaps we'll see the Wildcats' 45-game winning streak at the Pavilion snapped.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm Marquette Standard Time. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Links, Links, Links
- Rosiak explores the elephant in the room -- Vander Blue's disappointing freshman season to date. The article is encouraging. I remain convinced that Vander is merely playing out of position based on the current composition of the roster. Blue, who is not a shooter, is better equipped to play the point guard/alpha guard role and that opportunity will be there next season.
- Wesley Matthews has been selected to play in the annual Sophomore/Rookie Challenge at the NBA All-Star Weekend.
- CBS Sports previews tonight's game.
- MU game notes.