No. 1 Villanova Looks to Avoid Upset vs. Marquette in NCAAB Matinee

Doug Upstone

Sunday, January 28, 2018 1:28 AM UTC

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 1:28 AM UTC

The nation's top-ranked team is missing a key player, but they're still big road favorites today. There have been upsets over the years in early Sunday games, but is Marquette worth a wager with your NCAAB picks?

Sunday College Basketball: Villanova vs. MarquetteFree NCAAB Pick: Villanova -8Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Besides the hostile environment in Milwaukee, Villanova will be playing its first game today since losing starting guard Phil Booth with a broken hand. Booth was averaging 11.6 points a game and was second in assists with 3.2 per contest. The junior will be missed.

Marquette is in the midst of a nasty scheduling week, having just been routed at No. 8 Xavier 89-70 and now facing No. 1 Villanova. The NCAAB odds have the Wildcats as 8-point road favorites for the 1 p.m. ET tip-off.

Does Marquette have a chance, or will they be just another speed bump in Nova's tremendous season?

Marquette Must Play Some Defense, Too

The Golden Eagles (13-7, 9-9-1 ATS) have no problem putting up points. They average 83.2 ppg, led by sophomore guard Markus Howard (22.1) and senior backcourt mate Andrew Rowsey (20.1).

The downsides for Marquette are defense and rebounding. They rank 277th in points allowed (76.3 ppg) and 330th in grabbing missed shots. Coach Steve Wojciechowski's squad lacks size and quickness, which hurts them on the other end of the floor. Their guard tandem might score a number of points, but both are 5-foot-11 and are regularly exposed by taller backcourt opposition. If you watch this team, you did get the impression they are much more interested in scoring than defending.

Villanova Begins Adjustment Process

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Our co-captain @Philb_5 is as mentally resilient a player and leader we have had - he will be back stronger than ever !!

— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) January 24, 2018

No two ways about, losing Booth hurts Villanova (19-1, 14-6 ATS). Fortunately, they still have Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo, the Wildcats' first- and third-leading scorers, respectively. Coach Jay Wright will not place more pressure on freshman Collin Gillespie to fill in, because he returned only 10 days ago from his own hand injury.

Instead, Wright will ask every player to just do a little more. That means drive a little harder to the basket, play tougher defense and secure every loose ball. Smart coaches such as Wright realize it is not just about replacing the points but being stronger in all areas.

Villanova enters this Big East conflict 6-1 (5-2 ATS) on the road, and they are 17-1 and 14-4 ATS off a victory in their previous outing.

Who Covers This Big East Battle?

It is easy to overreact to an injury when making NCAAB picks, especially at this level. However, for one game, oft times the team losing the player arises for their fallen teammate and plays very well. With Marquette's defensive weaknesses, I could see Villanova pulling away and winning by double digits.

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