Villanova vs. Marquette College Basketball Odds & Picks: Focus On Game Total in Big East Contest
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Steve Wojciechowski.
- There's a big showdown in the Big East on Wednesday night, as the Villanova Wildcats prepare to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles.
- Instead of taking a side, BJ Cunningham has settled on the total for his pick for Wednesday's matchup.
- Cunningham breaks down the game below and explains why he's taking the under for this game.
Villanova vs. Marquette Odds
|Villanova Odds||-4 [BET NOW]|
|Marquette Odds||+4 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-190 / +155 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||143.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET|
Under head coach Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette has been a difficult road game for Villanova. The Golden Eagles have won three of the past four meetings in Milwaukee, including a 71-60 victory last year.
Will the Wildcats reverse the trend, or can the underdog bark yet again in this Big East battle?
The No. 5 Wildcats are again looking like one of the top teams in the country. Villanova has won five straight games after an 81-73 loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 28. The Wildcats have impressed with double-digit wins at Georgetown and at home against Butler to start Big East Conference play.
Head coach Jay Wright’s squad brings balance on both ends of the floor. Villanova is ranked fourth in adjusted-offensive efficiency and 29th in defense, per KenPom. The Wildcats are superior on the defensive boards, ranking 14th in limiting opponents’ offensive rebounds. Forwards Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Jermaine Samuels are both averaging over seven rebounds per game.
Scoring is the biggest strength for the Wildcats, with strong shooting percentages across the three key metrics. Villanova is shooting 55.4% from inside the arc, 37.2% from 3-point range and 74% from the free-throw line. Senior Collin Gillespie (41.9%), junior Caleb Daniels (45.2%) and junior Cole Swider (36.8%) have all been incredibly efficient from beyond the arc.
Wright’s team rarely beats themselves, ranking second-best in the country with only 8.4 turnovers per game. They balance that with a slow, methodical pace, ranking 350th out of 357 Division I teams in adjusted-tempo.
The scheme to beat the Wildcats is simple in theory but difficult in practice. Teams need to defend the 3-point shot and compete on the backboards. Can Marquette execute that plan?
Marquette Golden Eagles
Wojciechowski finally has a team that mirrors his own identity as a former player at Duke. Marquette is strong on the defensive and unselfish on offense.
After relying on sharpshooter Markus Howard to generate the majority of the Golden Eagles offense, Marquette now features a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging at least 10 points per game. Senior Koby McEwen is Marquette’s choice at crunch time, averaging 15.2 points while shooting 44.4% from 3-point range.
Marquette has received quality interior scoring from 6-foot-11 freshman Dawson Garcia (13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds), who has also connected on 8-of-22 shots (44.4%) from beyond the arc.
The key to Marquette’s offense has been the play of Ohio State transfer D.J. Carton. The sophomore point guard is averaging 12 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with 1.4 steals.
Marquette will bring urgency to this meeting, having lost three of their past four games. The Golden Eagles lost at UCLA, home to Seton Hall and at Xavier, with a shocking 89-84 road win at Creighton in the middle. They are just 1-2 in Big East Conference play.
The most consistent part of Marquette’s season has been its defense. It’s holding opponents to just 43.4% from inside the arc, impressive considering a schedule that included Wisconsin, UCLA and Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles have multiple rim protectors who are highlighted by senior Theo John (8.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 blocks).
Marquette should be able to limit Villanova on offense and keep this game close with their own deliberate pace. They only rank 258th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Villanova (79.5 points per game) and Marquette (76.1) have posted high point totals all season, but the Golden Eagles can’t match the explosive offensive talent of the Wildcats. Marquette will do everything possible to avoid a three-game losing streak, and the slow pace of both teams will dominate the game script.
These two teams will play another close game in Milwaukee with the winner determined in the final minutes. Therefore, I’m taking the under 143.5 with the rebounding prowess of both teams limiting second chances. This line has risen from the opening of 141.5, so I would wait to see if I could get it as high as 144-145.
Pick: Under 143.5 (down to 143).