#8 Villanova Wildcats (25-3) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (17-11)
When: Sunday, March 2, 2 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Result of Previous Meeting: Villanova won 94-85 in overtime at Marquette on January 25
Key Players for Marquette: #54 Davante Gardner (6-8, 290) Sr., F; #0 Jamil Wilson (6-7, 230) Sr., F; #4 Todd Mayo (6-3, 195) Jr., G
Scouting Report: With Midterm Madness over at Villanova and students heading home for Spring Break for a time of rest and relaxation, the Villanova basketball team has been gearing up for the game against Marquette. Sunday’s game brings them one step closer to March Madness. Marquette’s window of making it to the NCAA Tournament is slowly closing, but they enter Sunday’s game winning back to back games against DePaul and Georgetown. They looking to go on a serious run and possibly crash the party. Leading the way will be the bullish, 290 pound forward, Davante Gardner. Gardner is one tough cookie, he is a bruiser on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He is their top scorer and rebounder, sitting with 15.1 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. He is efficient on the floor, completing 53.4% of his shot attempts. He plays with emotion and excitement. He is good at finishing through contact, if he doesn’t, he will finish the job on the free throw line. Gardner has made 77.5% of his foul shots this season. He is coming off of back to back 20+ point games. Helping him out inside is the 6’11”, 275 pound Chris Otule. Otule is a defensive specialist, who adds size and length on the court. He isn’t known for his offense, but is excellent at keeping the paint in check on defense. The sixth-year senior ranks fourth on Marquette’s all-time leaders in blocks. Also watch for Jamil Wilson, he is right behind Gardner statistically, posting the second highest scoring and rebounding numbers. He has 12.0 points per game and 5.7 rebounders per game. Wilson is a quick moving forward and is primarily a slasher. Marquette likes to run some iso plays through him and he enjoys driving his way to the basket. However, he is not the greatest at making free throws, shooting just under 68%. Other players to watch for are Todd Mayo, Jake Thomas, and Derrick Wilson. Mayo had the crazy scoring stretch in the final minute of regulation in the first meeting between these two teams. He brought the Golden Eagles into overtime. Mayo is a valuable contributor off of the bench, and has added 10+ points in five of the last six games. Thomas has been steadily improving from long range throughout the season. He adds another element to the Marquette offense that primarily looks to the post to generate offense, he mixes it up. He was on fire in the previous game against Georgetown, shooting 6 for 9 from beyond the arc. Lastly, Derrick Wilson is the starting point guard and facilitator for Marquette. He isn’t getting much buzz, and that is simply because he is not a threat on offense. He contributes by setting his teammates up with good looks for a high percentage shot. He is another defensive specialist and he excels on this end.
Outlook: The last time these two teams played, Marquette was able to hinder the effectiveness of JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu. The Golden Eagles’ big men outperformed them inside. Davante Gardner had a double-double with 29 points and 13 rebounds. He singlehandedly outscored Villanova’s starting big men. Pinkston and Ochefu can’t get into foul trouble, they’re going to be needed at every minute they can give in order to defend the paint as best as they can. Villanova beat them up from the perimeter, making 10 three pointers. The Wildcats cannot afford to have another start like they did against Butler. It allowed for the Wildcats to continue to mix up their offense, but the made threes certainly helped. The trio of Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, and James Bell stepped it up in the first meeting, combining for 70 points. The Wildcats need to get back on the right track, yes they have been winning, but this is not Butler. I’m sure they weren’t too satisfied with the start they had either. If Pinkston and Ochefu can contain Gardner and the rest of the bigs, it will put Villanova in a much more favorable position. Force Marquette to look outside in order to have to score, sure Jake Thomas is coming off of a season-high game, but he can be rather inconsistent. Also, Marquette isn’t the greatest at shooting from the perimeter as team, they prefer the gritty inside basketball. I do see Villanova winning this one, but it won’t need overtime, instead it will be by a little more of a comfortable margin this time.