How to Watch:
Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022
Time: 10:00pm EST
Venue: Fiserv Forum - Milwaukee, WI
TV: FS1 (Kevin Kugler & Bill Raftery)
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Spread: MARQ: +4.5 (-110) | NOVA: -4.5 (-110)
Total: 134 (-110)
via: Bovada Sportsbook
The Villanova Wildcats (16-5, 9-2 BIG EAST) are set to face the Marquette Golden Eagles (15-7, 7-4 BIG EAST) in their second and final meeting between two top five teams in the Big East.
In their previous matchup, Marquette pulled off a shocking upset in the Finneran Pavilion by way of a Justin Lewis three-ball with under twenty seconds to go. A Justin Moore equalizer fell short and Marquette would earn their first victory at the Finneran Pavilion in school history.
Marquette will return home after coming off of one of their toughest losses of the season on the road at Providence. After starting conference play with three straight losses, the Golden Eagles rattled off seven conference wins in a row, a feat that has only been done once before in all of college basketball.
Golden Eagles try to get back on track
The red-hot Golden Eagles will turn their attention to a familiar foe in Villanova and look to sweep the season series against the Wildcats for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Marquette is led by redshirt freshman forward Justin Lewis, who leads the team in points per game (16.5) and rebounds per game (7.9). Head coach Shaka Smart also hit the lottery when it came to the transfer portal. Darryl Morsell (Maryland) and Tyler Kolek (George Mason) have been key contributors to Marquette’s success since the season tipped off. The Golden Eagles will look to stay red-hot against the Wildcats in what is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing games of the year in the conference.
Villanova’s search for revenge
As for Villanova, they will look to continue a hot streak of their own going into this game as victors in nine of their last ten contests. Their only loss in that stretch was to Marquette just two weeks ago in dramatic fashion on the main line.
The Wildcats already rely heavily on their starters and will need to continue to do so as Bryan Antoine, a key bench contributor, is listed as doubtful against Marquette after missing last Saturday’s game against Saint John’s due to an ankle injury.
As always, Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore will remain the focal point of the offense going into this contest with Marquette. In addition to Gillespie and Moore, sophomore forward Eric Dixon and junior guard Caleb Daniels seem to improve every game. Their contributions have been crucial to Villanova’s success since the new year and will continue to benefit the Wildcats all the way through March.
In my opinion, where games are won and lost for the Wildcats is in the unpredictable play of Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater. Going into the season, these two were supposed to be key contributors in not only the defense, but the offense as well. The two forwards have, frankly, been disappointing for Jay Wright’s team so far this year. If the team can find a way for Samuels and Slater to consistently contribute on both ends of the floor, Villanova could be a very dangerous team come tournament time.
In their last meeting Marquette, led by Justin Lewis, shot the lights out beyond the arc, connecting on a season high thirteen made three pointers. Villanova on the other hand had one of their worst shooting performances from deep, going 6-24 from beyond the arc. Collin Gillespie also struggled scoring only ten points on 31% from the field. While Marquette has proven that they are a team to be reckoned with in the Big East, and one we will for sure see again in March, I do not see them replicating that performance we most recently saw. I expect this game to live up to all the hype it is getting. I also expect a close matchup that (hopefully) is not dictated by the inscrutable whistle that is the 2022 Big East officials. Give me the ‘cats in a dog fight.
My Prediction: 70-65, Villanova