"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Warriors seek signature road win

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

Please take the time to watch the latest excellent episode of Marquette Basketball Weekly from Brad Galli, Todd Warner and the team at MUTVSports.

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