Villanova-Marquette Betting Guide: Will Wildcats Meet Their 3-Point Match?

Villanova-Marquette Betting Guide: Will Wildcats Meet Their 3-Point Match? article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Markus Howard and Collin Gilespie

Villanova-Marquette Betting Odds, Pick

  • Odds: Marquette -1.5
  • Total: 144
  • Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX

>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and win probabilities on your bets.

On National Marquette Day — the school’s version of homecoming — the Golden Eagles will play arguably their biggest game of the season in front of a raucous home crowd.

Marquette hosts Villanova, which is a perfect 10-0 in Big East play. The second-place Eagles are 8-2, so a win here would get them back in the conference title race; a loss would give the Wildcats a huge lead.

So who has the edge Saturday? Let’s break it all down.

Odds Moves for Villanova-Marquette

Marquette opened -1 at some offshore books, and was bet up to -1.5 and -2. Westgate sits at -1.5 as of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday.

The total has also risen half a point, from 143.5 to 144. — Steve Petrella

Trends to Know

If Villanova closes as an underdog against Marquette, it will be the first time in 14 games in the series that Nova is a dog. Nova hasn’t been a dog in conference play in February or later since 2014.

In Villanova’s last 16 games as a dog against a conference opponent in February or later dating back to 2010, Jay Wright’s crew is just 3-12-1 (20%) against the spread, failing to cover by 4.8 points per game. — Evan Abrams

In Villanova’s last game against Creighton, it shot 37.5% from the field, its worst shooting performance since December this season and fourth-worst overall.

Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Wright has led Villanova to a 17-4 (81%) against the spread record the game after shooting below 40% from the field, covering the spread by 5.3 points per game. In that span, Wright is the second-most profitable coach in this spot behind just Andy Kennedy. — Evan Abrams

When Marquette Has the Ball

Marquette needs to find a way to be more efficient within the arc. The Golden Eagles only rank eighth in 2P% in their Big East games. By contrast, they are first overall in the conference in 3-point percentage, shooting over 40% as a team. Marquette only ranks 322nd in point distribution from 2P attempts. It will not beat Villanova without offensive balance. In their loss to St. John’s on Tuesday, they shot only 30.8% (8 of 26) from beyond the arc.

Marquette must attack the Wildcats on the backboards, since Villanova has struggled there in Big East games. Nova ranks eighth in offensive rebounding percentage allowed in Big East games. However, Marquette only averages 9.4 offensive rebounds per game (236th in the country).

The Golden Eagles would also benefit from getting to the foul line. They rank ninth nationally in free throw shooting and are connecting at 78.6% in conference games. Leading scorer Markus Howard (24.6 ppg) is the nation’s ninth-best free throw shooter at 91.3%. They will also be able to attack Villanova inside as the Wildcats have the third worst block percentage in conference play.

The keys for Marquette on offense are efficiency from 3-point range, rebounding, and interior scoring. — Mike Randle

When Villanova Has the Ball

The trigger to Jay Wright’s squad totaling 11 consecutive outright wins, including six straight covers, revolves around its 3-point assassins. The Wildcats own the highest effective field goal percentage (56.5%) — and the third-highest perimeter clip (38.1%) — during Big East play.

While the Golden Eagles’ conference foes have combined to total the second-lowest scoring rate from that vicinity during their league slate, Villanova is adept at adjusting its gameplan thanks to Wright — one of the top coaches in the game. Look for the Wildcats to have success attacking the rim, with Marquette yielding the Big East’s second-highest free-throw rate (34.4%).

That should deliver the slow-paced Wildcats an advantage in the tempo department, limiting Marquette’s opportunities to gun it from behind the arc in transition. — Eli Hershkovich

Who Will Control the Tempo?

Did you know that Nova is a snail? It ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in adjusted tempo. Marquette ranks in the top 100 and would prefer to play much faster, which it can do if it is defending the 3-point line well and grabbing defensive rebounds (two things it does well).

As a result, I have to disagree with Eli. I think Marquette controls the tempo in front of a wild crowd and ultimately pulls out a tight one. — Stuckey

Nova’s Toughest 3-Point Test This Season

How has this Villanova team, which looked more than vulnerable early in the season, completely turned it around after an 8-4 start with losses to Penn and Furman? Well, Wright is one of the best coaches in the game. You have to give credit where credit is due.

However, Nova has benefited from a very down year in the Big East — and some shooting luck against some bad perimeter defenses. The Wildcats have won 11 in a row, but the best team they beat during that stretch was St. Johns — by five at home.

This Villanova team absolutely bombs away from the 3-point line — more than any other team that Wright has had since arriving on the Main Line. Just take a look at some of these stats:

  • One of four teams to attempt at least 30.0 3-pointers per game.
  • 10.9 3-pointers made per game (fourth-highest in country).
  • 42.9% of their points come from 3 (sixth-highest in NCAA).
  • And most telling of all, Nova has a 3-point rate of 53.3%, which means over half of their shots come from behind the arc. Only Savannah State has a higher rate (57.8) and only six of 353 Division I teams sit at 50% or above.

It’s clear that if you can’t stop the 3, you’re going to have trouble stopping Nova’s offense. Well, let’s look at who the Wildcats have faced during their 10-0 start to Big East play and their respective national averages in defending the 3-point line.

  • Depaul 265th (twice)
  • Providence 153rd
  • St Johns 144th
  • Creighton 263rd (twice)
  • Xavier 311th
  • Butler 198th
  • Seton Hall 182nd
  • Georgetown 147th

Nova has not faced a single opponent in Big East play that ranks in the top 140 in defending the 3-point line. Well, that will change today, as Marquette has only allowed opponents to shoot 32% behind the arc (70th), including just 26.2% at home (top 15 nationally).

Nova has only played four teams all season that rank in the top 75 in 3 point defense: It went 1-3 in those games, with losses to Penn, Furman and Michigan, and a win over UConn. And the only one that was played “on the road” was against Penn in the Palestra.

Markus Howard gets all of the national pub for Marquette (and rightfully so) but Steve Wojciechowski finally has the Golden Eagles playing defense. Their defense has lots of length and forces teams into lot of bad shots, as evidenced by their national of rank of 20th in effective FG%. They also have an elite rim protector in Theo John (if he can stay out of foul trouble). — Stuckey

Stuckey: What I’m Betting

As I mentioned above, I like the matchup for Marquette’s defense and its electric offense should have success against a mediocre Nova defense. I also love the spot for Marquette, which not only has triple revenge from last season (lost twice in regular season and in Big East tourney), but the Golden Eagles should come out as the more desperate team. They simply need this game much more to avoid falling three games back of Nova in the Big East.

And most importantly, I like the value with Marquette at a cheap -1.5. I have these teams power rated almost even and give Marquette 3.5 points here for home court. It’s just a good opportunity to catch Marquette off a home loss against a Villanova team that is inflated in the market after a 10-0 start in the Big East and finally cooled down some from 3 against Creighton on Wednesday.

Marquette’s advantage from the free throw line could also play a major role. It’s one of the reasons the Eagles have performed so well in close games. They’re 7-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer, including 3-0 in overtime this year. — Stuckey