Marquette v Villanova, a Look at the Wildcats

Marquette travled to Philly to take on Villanova as part of ESPN's BIG MONDAY. MarquetteHoops.com's Marco Radenkovich give you a look at the Villanova Wildcats...

Projected Starters

G – Scottie Reynolds 6-2"(SO) 16.4 PPG 3.0 RPG 3.3 APG 1.5 SPG 42% FG 37% 3P

G – Corey Fisher 6-1"(FR) 10.2 PPG 1.8 RPG 2.9 APG 1.2 SPG 36% FG 34% 3P

G/F – Dwayne Anderson 6-6"(JR) 5.2 PPG 4.0 RPG 0.7 APG 51% FG 33% 3P

F – Dante Cunningham 6-8"(JR) 10.2 PPG 6.6 RPG 1.0 APG 1.4 SPG 0.9 BPG 54% FG

F/C – Antonio Pena 6-8"(FR) 6.7 PPG 4.3 RPG 0.9 APG 49% FG

Reserves

G – Corey Stokes 6-5"(FR) – Key 3-point shooter, 10-20 in last three games from deep.

F – Shane Clark 6-5"(JR) – Dominated early in the schedule for ‘Nova, having 4 double digit scoring games, only to fall off the map in Big East play.

G – Malcolm Grant 6-1"(FR) – Pure shooter, has found it tough to get minutes lately, 49% from behind the arc all year.

G – Reggie Redding 6-1"(SO) – Defensive oriented guard, 1.1 steals per game in only 22 minutes. Not a scorer, does everything to help a team win.

As the final score went up on Saturday, Marquette fans had to feel bittersweet about the Villanova win over UCONN.

On one hand, the loss put MU only half a game back of UCONN for that illusive fourth seed in the Big East Tournament. On the other, it was the fourth win in the last five games for the Wildcats, who are playing much inspired basketball since their five game losing streak.

How have the Wildcats done it? First off, it's been defense. The Cats are undersized, and usually play three or more guards at a time. Pena, Cunningham and Drummond are the only factors over 6'8''. But their quick defense has shown improvement over the past five games, holding opponents to 57.6 per game. During their losing streak, they surrendered 80.6 points per game, a difference of 23 points per game.

In their game this past weekend vs. UCONN, Villanova had nine steals, including five from Cunningham. This was due to their swarming defense, double and even triple-teaming the big guys of UCONN. Pena had the assignment on Hasheem Thabeet for most of the game, and he showed that he plays bigger than 6'8'' with his rebounding ability and 10 crucial points. Reynolds gutted out a great performance with 18 points on a gimpy ankle. He's probable for the game on Monday. Stokes, one of the two HS All-American guards for ‘Nova came up huge from three, shooting 4-7 and 7-12 from the field for 18 points.

They also have cut down on turnovers in this recent stretch of success, showing that the team is growing up at the right time if they want to make the tournament. Villanova starts two freshmen and doesn't have a senior on the roster, but the Wildcats are starting to mature. They need to finish .500 or better and make noise in the Big East Tournament in order to get into the field of 65. Head Coach Jay Wright has done a great job in helping these young players mature quicker, and getting them back into bubble consideration.

After watching Villanova at the Allstate Arena vs. DePaul, the Cats seemed to settle for tough jumpers, rather than patiently running their offense to get a good shot. As a quick team, the Wildcats are at their strength when running. When in a half-court set, they are a heavy perimeter team.

Marquette is coming off a four game win streak themselves. They have scored at least 72 points and allowed no more than 64 in each game of their current winning streak, and they forced 23 turnovers in each of their last two games. The most encouraging statistic over the weekend was the 35-4 advantage MU had over Rutgers in fast break points.

The most exciting matchup will be Jerel McNeal vs. Reynolds. Reynolds is their best scorer and playmaker, and McNeal shut him down in the second half last February when ‘Nova visited the Bradley Center. Reynolds had 15 quick points, but when Crean made the switch, Reynolds didn't get free as often.

The game will be on ESPN at 6:00 CT. Villanova have also won three straight at home, where they are 11-2 this season. Marquette is just 5-4 on the road, but have won three of their last four.



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