Play Villanova With Confidence vs. Marquette As Our NCAA Basketball Pick

Jay Pryce

Saturday, February 27, 2016 2:47 PM GMT

Villanova heads to Milwaukee to take on Marquette, its final road game of the season. The Wildcats have owned the Golden Eagles of late, winning eight games in a row.

Villanova Wildcats (24-4 SU, 13-14 ATS)
The Cats moved to a 13-2 record in Big East play following a 90-83 defeat to No. 5 Xavier on Wednesday. It was the most points coach Jay Wright's defense has surrendered all season, and snapped a 30-day, seven-game win streak where Villanova owned a +16.4 scoring margin per game. Wright's squad was burned badly by foul trouble in the matchup. Three players (Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, and Mikal Bridges) fouled out, and Daniel Ochefu was limited to 24 minutes due to a quick succession of calls. Can they gather their composure and rebound against a rising Marquette squad on the road? Recent history says yes.

The Cats have won eight in a row against Marquette, covering the spread in seven of them. The Golden Eagles handled Villanova in the first half in the earlier meeting in Philly, though, winning 38-37 at the break. Nevertheless, the Cats pounced on the young team in the second for a 83-68 win.

The offense is led by a quadruplet of guards that love to shoot the three: Hart (15.0 ppg), Ryan Arcidianono (11.9 ppg), Jenkins (11.6 ppg), and freshman Jalen Brunson (10.6 ppg). Their 25.6 attempts per game is 23rd most in the nation. However, they are not incredibly efficient form the area, shooting 32.8 percent from behind the arc. Marquette covers the zone well (33.0 % allowed), and is 11-2 SU against offenses shooting less than 34 percent on the season. The Golden Eagles have covered the number in five of six games as a dog in this spot, including their loss to the Cats in the first matchup.

 

Marquette Golden Eagles (18-10 SU, 12-15 ATS)
Marquette slipped into darkness following a 26-win season in 2012, but former Duke player and coach Steve Wojciechowski has his young squad showing promise for a bright future. Going 10-22 against Big East foes since taking over the program, Wojciechowski has guided the team to four wins in their last six in conference, twice as a dog against Butler (75-69, +2.5) and Providence in overtime (96-91, +1).

The Golden Eagles go to the forntcourt to score. Freshman forward Henry Ellenson leads the team with 16.7 points per game, while 6-foot-11 Luke Fischer puts in 12.3 per contest from the center position as the team's No.2 scorer.

 

Final Analysis
Since 2013, the Cats are 21-3 SU and 15-9 against the NCAA basketball odds in Big East road contests, tipping off chalk in every one. Marquette has dropped seven straight to Villanova and has only one win over a AP top 25 team in the last two season under Wojciechowski, so I don't foresee a big upset here. Look for Villanova to put their last game behind them and build some momentum headed into March Madness. Wildcats win by double digits. Villanova -8.5 is the NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Villanova -8.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle