VILLANOVA (7-6) AT NO. 13 MARQUETTE (11-2)
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ESPNU
Location: Bradley Center
Villanova Players to Watch: G Maalik Wayns, Jr. (17.6 ppg, 5.3 apg); C Mouphtaou Yarou, Jr. (12.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg); G Dominic Cheek, Jr. (12.2 ppg, 87.2% FT). Wayns gets in the lane with easy and is a strong finisher.
Marquette Players to Watch: G/F Darius Johnson-Odom, Sr. (17.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg); F Jae Crowder, Sr. (17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg); G Junior Cadougan, Jr. (7.6 ppg, 5.5 apg). Johnson-Odom is one of the most creative scorers in the country.
Storylines: Villanova is 0-1 in the Big East after a loss at West Virginia Wednesday. The Wildcats’ 8-year NCAA Tournament streak is in serious jeopardy. Marquette was embarrassed by a rejuvenated Vanderbilt squad Thursday. This is the Golden Eagles’ Big East opener.
Keys to Victory: Wayns is the key to this one. If he’s able to penetrate at will – as he does against most teams – the Wildcats can hang in with Marquette. If not, this one will get ugly early.
The Bottom Line: Marquette is a matchup team. With their strength and defense, the Eagles excel against smaller, more athletic teams, and they struggle against bigger, stronger teams. Fortunately for them, Villanova is the former.
The Pick: Marquette 78, Villanova 63.