No. 15 Villanova Wildcats (11-1) +3.5 at Marquette Golden Eagles (11-2)
-3.5 Bradley Center, Milwaukee, W.I., 2:30PM Eastern, Thursday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The no. 15 ranked Villanova Wildcats take center court to battle the Marquette Golden Eagles in both teams first Big East match-up this season to bring in the New Year Thursday afternoon. The Wildcats single loss this season came from the hands of no. 8 Texas. Marquette is ranked no. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today polls, but is barely on the outside of the top 25 in the AP Polls. The Golden Eagles have been solid this season will try to score a big victory over the Wildcats. Both teams match-up well in this contest and will be battling to start off conference play with a win.
Villanova produces a very skilled defensive scheme that has given opponents an extremely hard time this year. The Wildcats are among one of the best defensive teams in College Basketball. Villanova ranks 20th in the nation in scoring defense holding opposing teams to a mere 57 points per game. Villanova also ranks 13th in the NCAA in allowed rebounds per game. The Wildcats are holding opponents to an outstanding low 26 rebounds per contest and will look to control the boards against the Golden Eagles. Villanova again has another strong defensive stat considering the Wildcats are only allowing opponents to shoot a miserable 37% from the floor which ranks them in the top 30 in the nation in field goal percentage allowed. The Wildcats defensive play could be a big factor against the Golden Eagles.
Marquette is one the better scoring teams in college basketball and their fast pace style of play could present problems for the Wildcats. The Golden Eagles average a strong 81 points per game which ranks them in the top 20 teams around the land. Similar to the Wildcats, the Golden Eagles have held teams to very low numbers in opposing rebounds. Marquette is only allowing opponents to have 28 rebounds per game this season. The Golden Eagles are also shooting a fairly strong 46% as a team from the floor and will need to shoot the ball well on New Years Day. This particular match-up presents a fast offensive paced Golden Eagle team against a slower pace defensive Villanova team. Which game pace will prevail in this match-up and which team will be able for their style of play to shine through?
Oddsmakers have opened the betting lines favoring the Marquette Golden Eagles at home in the Bradley Center by 3.5 points over the higher ranked Wildcats. The reason many are leaning with the Golden Eagles in this game is because they bring an offense that can score quickly and that may give the Wildcats some troubles. ATS odds are at -110 for both teams early in the betting process.
The Wildcats are led by a strong starting five with four of those players averaging at least 10 points or more this season. Villanova is led by the play of senior forward Dante Cunningham who is averaging 17 points per game this season along with 7.5 rebounds. Junior guard Scottie Reynolds has been a force for the Wildcats this season averaging 14.2 points per game this season. The Wildcats have high scoring averages amongst their starters despite being a low scoring team. Villanova will likely have to post big numbers to keep pace with the Golden Eagles.
Marquette has a trio of stars that are as effective as any three in the country. Senior guard Wesley Matthews leads the teams with a stout 19.2 points per game along with 6 rebounds and 3 assist. Lazar Hayward and Jerel McNeal have both averaged 17 points this season and give the Golden Eagles plenty of weapons to utilize their potent offense. Hayward is nearly averaging a double-double this season with 9.5 rebounds to support his 17 points per game. Marquette also has a tad bit deeper lineup than Villanova as their bench play should be stronger than the Wildcats. The Golden Eagles will try and wear down the Wildcats and force them into an open court style of play.
Villanova has won 4 of their last 6 games ATS when the betting lines have included the Wildcats. Villanova is also 4 for 4 in that stretch in games recorded on the under total. Marquette is 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games with their last two contest reaching the under total as well.
Jays Pick - Marquette presents problems for the Wildcats and I believe they cover this one. Take Marquette -3.5.