Villanova vs Marquette Odds & Prediction: Why to Bet Wildcats
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Villanova’s Justin Moore.
Villanova vs Marquette Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
It would be hard to believe at the beginning of the college basketball season that Villanova would be close to a double-digit underdog at Marquette when the two teams met to begin February.
When you consider that Villanova is finally healthy with Justin Moore back in the lineup, it’s even more improbable.
Marquette has been the best team in the Big East to this point with a 7-2 record and two road losses by nine combined points, with one of them coming in overtime.
The offense ranks No. 1 in the KenPom efficiency ratings by a solid margin. It’s been a resurgent year for Shaka Smart in Year 2 in Milwaukee, and the Golden Eagles look like legitimate Final Four contenders.
Villanova is in a transition year after the surprise retirement of head coach Jay Wright last season. It’s just 4-6 in the Big East and 10-11 overall in Kyle Neptune’s first season.
From a buy-low, sell-high perspective, this is a great spot for Villanova. The Wildcats match up really well with the Golden Eagles and should grind this game into the half-court and stay within this inflated number.
When a team plays Marquette, it won’t be successful if it turns the ball over often or lets the Golden Eagles run in transition.
Villanova is excellent at getting back in transition defense. It doesn’t turn the ball over, and it shoots free throws better than every team in the country. The Wildcats have had their offensive struggles this season in the half-court, but Villanova is still top-30 in offensive turnover rate and now has a key ball-handler in Moore back in the rotation.
The Wildcats sit in the 93rd percentile nationally in transition defense and don’t really let teams run with any real frequency. In the first meeting between the two teams, Marquette won the game on the road but played in the half-court for almost the entire second half.
That favors the Wildcats to keep this close significantly.
The main issue for Villanova is that the offense went from one of the best in the country from 3-point range last season to quite mediocre this season. Part of that is losing Collin Gillespie, but some of it is guys just shooting below their career percentages.
If you look at the Wildcats offense in the league alone, you can see where the Golden Eagles would be able to turn them over and run away with this game at home.
Villanova has had turnover issues in the league, but Moore’s return is a massive upgrade in the Villanova backcourt. He played 31 minutes in the loss to Providence on Saturday and had four assists to just one turnover.
The Golden Eagles have the best offense in the country by KenPom and rank sixth, per ShotQuality. They don’t turn the ball over, and they take high-quality shots from either the rim or the 3-point line.
Tyler Kolek has the eighth-best assist rate in the country and is extremely effective in the pick-and-roll for the Golden Eagles.
Marquette doesn’t play with a traditional big and usually has four players minimum on the floor who can shoot the ball from deep at all times.
Against most teams, the Golden Eagles are able to create mismatches and switching advantages through the ball screens — or they can get the defense to collapse and leave shooters.
For most teams, the Golden Eagles’ spacing and positional versatility is a matchup problem. However, Villanova has five players capable of switching on the floor at all times, and Eric Dixon is one of the most mobile defensive bigs in the entire country.
That should help the Cats contain Marquette enough to stay in this game. Villanova also ranks 84th percentile in pick-and-roll defense, per Synergy.
Villanova vs Marquette Betting Pick
Marquette’s defense is still pretty flawed — both at the rim and from 3 — and this could be a decent spot for the Wildcats to finally make some perimeter shots. Villanova ranks ninth in conference play in 3-point percentage. However, ShotQuality says it should be making 3% more from deep in league play.
This is a similar spot for Villanova as when it went to Connecticut to begin conference play. The Wildcats were struggling and entered as 14-point underdogs while UConn was at the peak of its market rating.
The Wildcats lost the game by eight and never really threatened to win in the final five minutes. But the cover was also never really in doubt, as Villanova never trailed by more than 10.
The Wildcats are physical. They compete and should control the glass. With the extra ball-handler now, Villanova will be competitive and stay inside this number, even if it doesn’t get enough stops against this elite Marquette offense to win.
Pick: Villanova +9 or Better
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