The Villanova Wildcats still have hope to win the Big East Conference, but it isn’t going to be east. Three straight conference losses have the Wildcats looking up at the Marquette Golden Eagles in the standings. Marquette has a 1.5 game lead over the defending national champions, and a win in this game could basically wrap up the regular season race. Marquette won a thrilling 66-65 game over Villanova earlier this season.
Villanova was the preseason favorite to win the Big East Conference, and things looked great until last week. The Wildcats have dropped three straight games to unranked opponents, and have seen their record fall to 20-8 overall, and 11-4 in conference play. Marquette has won four straight games to improve their record to 23-4 overall, and 12-2 in Big East Conference play. Villanova is -3.5 over Marquette in this game.
Howard Continues to Score For Marquette
Opposing teams have been trying every trick in the book to keep Markus Howard from scoring points, but nothing has worked. The Marquette guard is pouring in 25.3 points per game so far this season, while also dishing out a team-high four assists per game. Howard is a terrific shooter with ridiculous range, making over 43 percent of his three-point attempts and shooting better than 91 percent from the free-throw line. If Villanova is going to beat Marquette, they are going to have to find a way to stop Markus Howard.
Howard gets all of the attention, but Marquette also has a terrific supporting cast. Brothers Sam and Joey Hauser have combined for more than 25 points per game this season, and the Golden Eagles can play some terrific defense as well. Marquette is allowing just 68.6 points per game, and averaging more than five steals, and four blocks per contest. The Golden Eagles have held opponents to under 70 points in their last four games and will need another great showing in this game.
Wildcats Struggling To Find Offense
Villanova was one of the best and most efficient offensive teams in the country a season ago, but things haven’t gone well for them this season. The Wildcats are still averaging close to 75 points per game this season, but are averaging just 64 points in their last three losses. Villanova has a ton of capable three-point shooters on the roster, but they have all been struggling of late. If the Wildcats are going to pull off this win, they are going to have to make some shots.
Senior guard Phil Booth has taken huge steps this season to lead the Wildcats on the offensive end of the floor. Booth is pouring in more than 18 points per game, while also dishing out 3.8 assists per game. Forward Eric Paschall has chipped in with 17 points per game this season, while also grabbing six boards per game. Villanova lost a ton of leadership from last year’s National championship team, but Booth and Paschall have the ability to lead the team on a deep run again.
Villanova Stays Alive With Win
Villanova has been an extremely hard team to figure out this season. The Wildcats looked to be dead in the water in mid-December, but then looked unbeatable for about a month before this recent slide. Marquette has been easy to figure out this season, but they haven’t been easy to beat. Since this was a one-point game at Marquette, Villanova should have enough talent to snap their three-game losing streak with a win. Bet the Villanova Wildcats -3.5 over the Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday night.