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Villanova looks for first win against Marquette since 2021 | Villanova vs. #9 Marquette Preview

Written by on January 30, 2024

After suffering their fourth straight loss against Butler, Villanova prepares for a Tuesday night showdown against #9 Marquette tonight at 7pm. The Wildcats are now 11-9 overall in the 2023-24 campaign and just 4-5 in Big East play. They enter today tied for 8th place in the conference with Xavier and they are four games behind #1 UConn. Villanova is also on the edge of the bubble to make the NCAA March Madness Tournament, so the Wildcats must find victories quickly.

Marquette Preview

First Matchup: Marquette-87, Villanova-74

The Wildcats have already matched up against the Golden Eagles earlier in January on Martin Luther King Jr. today, where Marquette defeated Villanova, 87-74. Villanova has lost all three games against Marquette since the start of Coach Neptune’s tenure as head coach. However, the Wildcats still lead the all-time series against the Golden Eagles, 27-17. If Villanova defeated #9 Marquette today, it would be the Wildcats’ first victory against the Golden Eagles since February of 2021.

The Golden Eagles’ Season Profile

Marquette comes to the Finneran Pavilion with a 15-5 overall record and 6-3 Big East conference record. After losing to Butler on January 10th, they have won four straight games, including the win against Villanova in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles are third in the conference and just two games behind the Huskies for first place.

In their first matchup, Marquette dominated the paint battle. They outscored Villanova in the paint, 60-18. Villanova’s defense tremendously struggled, especially in the second half. The first half was close with both teams having success offensively, but the Golden Eagles pulled away in the second half by scoring 44 points. Mark Armstrong led all scorers with 24 points on 8-15 shooting from the field. Armstrong did not start against Butler. Hakim Hart was inserted in the starting lineup for the first time this season in the loss to the Bulldogs. It is unclear who will start tonight, but Armstrong played his best game of the season against Marquette.

Eric Dixon, who averages 15.6 points per game, scored 15 points in the first matchup against the Golden Eagles, but he also had three turnovers. As a team, Villanova did shoot the ball well with a 47.2% success rate from the field and 42.4% from three.

In addition to Villanova’s poor defense against Marquette, the Wildcats lost the rebounding battle by two rebounds. They also had 11 assists compared to Marquette’s 24 assists. Villanova finished the game with 12 total turnovers. They forced just three Marquette turnovers. The Golden Eagles do an excellent job at limiting turnovers on offense and forcing turnovers on defense.

Marquette’s Offensive Team Stats

As a team, Marquette averages 77.5 points per game while shooting 47% from the field. They are an average three-point shooting team at 33%. The Golden Eagles struggle from the charity stripe with just a team 72.7% from the free throw line.

Marquette’s Players to Watch

F Oso Ighodaro (Senior, Chandler, Arizona): 14.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, scored at least ten-points in the last six games, scored 18 points with seven rebounds against Villanova

G Tyler Kolek (Senior, Cumberland, RI): 14.2 ppg, 7.1 apg, scored 21 points against Villanova on 1/15

G Kam Jones (Junior, Memphis, TN): 13.9 ppg, 45.1% FG%, scored 22 points against Villanova on 1/15

Keys to the Game

My keys to the game for Villanova would be to improve paint defense, be competitive in the rebounding game, and limit turnovers. To win, the Wildcats cannot get outscored in the paint by over 40 points again against Marquette. Villanova must guard better against Marquette in the paint, especially against Ighodaro. Villanova has really struggled with rebounding during this four-game losing streak. Marquette is not an excellent rebounding team at 33.2 rebounds per game, and Villanova should have success with better defense and rebounding in the paint. Marquette does a tremendous job at limiting turnovers and forcing turnovers on defense. Villanova must limit their offensive turnovers and get the turnover margin much smaller than in the first matchup.

Dixon will not have an easy task in the paint against Ighodaro and the Golden Eagles, so other starters like TJ Bamba and Mark Armstrong need to step up. Bamba is averaging over 13 points in his last six games. Although Armstrong did not start against Butler, he had a lot of success with 24 points in the first matchup, so I would expect him to play a large role again tonight, regardless of if he is in the starting lineup.

WXVU Live Coverage

WXVU will have live coverage of tonight’s game between Villanova and #9 Marquette beginning with the pregame show at 6:30pm. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm from the Finneran Pavilion.