The Marquette Golden Eagles still look like a team trying to find themselves under a new head coach. At 11-14 overall and 3-10 in Big East Conference play, Marquette could have the highlight of their season with a win at home against the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats. They find themselves facing a team who might be looking ahead to a tough Providence squad on Tuesday night, who may overlook the Golden Eagles just enough to give then a chance.
The Wildcats come in looking to extend their conference-best seven game win streak. The Wildcats are sitting pretty with a two game lead in the conference and could take one more step towards clinching that bid this afternoon. That is not all the Wildcats should be worrying about. A winning streak through the Big East Championship would mean a great shot at a number 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
1. CAN VILLANOVA COME OUT AGGRESSIVELY?
The Wildcats have struggled with their shooting early in games. In both losses this year, the 'Cats fell behind early on the road and couldn't make up the margin enough after halftime. This game has the first part of the equation: the Bradley Center seats 17,000 fans and Marquette Fans, even in a down year, are sure to come out in force.
2. WHO SHOOTS THE BALL BETTER?
Marquette has capable shooters. Despite that, they sit at seventh in the Big East Conference in field goal shooting. Their issue has been scoring in the paint. The insertion of Luke Fisher helped, but not enough to give this team a post season.
Meanwhile the Wildcats are nearly unbeatable when they shoot well. If the 'Cats find the shots falling early Marquette will be in big trouble. The Blue and White's M.O. lately has been to have Darrun Hilliard make a few shots early to lead the team through their slow starts. If he has a little help early, the Cats could go off.
3. BATTLE ON THE BOARDS
Marquette ranks last in Big East Conference play in rebounding. They need to find a way to beat Villanova on the boards, especially the defensive glass. Look, its this simple: if the Wildcats are making shots, you're going to lose. If the Wildcats are missing their first shots but get 12+ offensive rebounds on you, they're going to capitalize, get short range shots and beat you. If the Wildcats miss their shots and you keep them from getting offensive rebounds... Now you're in the game.