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College Basketball Pick
As the season comes closer to an end, the more important the games get, especially for those on the bubble. After a 4-4 start to the season which included a loss to Columbia, Villanova is surprisingly one of those teams on the bubble.
The Wildcats are now 17-10 overall with an 8-6 conference record. Back-to-back wins over Louisville and Syracuse are the main reason they are on the bubble because those are their only wins over ranked teams. Three of their next four games will be against teams in the Top 25, starting with Marquette on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles are atop the Big East standings and sport a 19-6 record. They haven't won a meaningful road game since an overtime win over Pittsburgh back on Jan. 12. With Syracuse looming on their schedule just two days later, it will be imperative for Marquette to take this game seriously because Nova is not a team to take lightly.
As said before, any team that can beat Louisville and Syracuse in the matter of five days, deserves a mention. Their last win showed just what kind of scoring capabilities this team has. After only getting 21 points and going down by 10 at halftime, the Wildcats came out and threw down 50 second-half points on Rutgers. A loss there probably would have vanquished them their bubble spot. They won that game with balanced scoring as all five starters hit double figures.
It will take another team effort from those guys to overpower the athletic squad of Marquette. Big men Mouphtaou Yarou and Davante Gardner will go head-to-head in the paint. Yarou has the advantage for the Golden Eagles in height, but Gardner has the size to deal with him even though he comes off the bench. The main problem for Marquette defensively, as it is for most teams, will be guarding the trio of three-point shooters of the Wildcats. On average, Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard and James Bell make more than a combined five threes per game. With that long-rang ability and leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston slashing to the hoop, this isn't an easy team to stop.
Marquette is a little less balanced, but a whole lot deeper. Led by Vander Blue, the Golden Eagles put 79 points on the board against Pittsburgh, a normally stout defense. Blue is the head of this offense and will need a good game for Marquette to come away with a win. The last time Blue struggled to score was a loss at Georgetown where he only had seven points. Gardner is their second-highest scorer even though he's only averaging 21 minutes per game. Jamil Wilson has continually been a spark off the bench hitting double-digits in five straight games. Those three combined for 47 of Marquette's 67 points at Seton Hall on Tuesday night.
The shooting of the Wildcats will be hard to match in this game, but athleticism and depth on the perimeter for the Golden Eagles should help out a lot. This should be a very close game with the eventual winner being decided on the play of Vander Blue and Villanova's three-point shooting.
Predicted Score - Marquette 65 Villanova 60
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