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Women's Basketball Big East Game 18 Preview: At Villanova (21-7, 11-6)

Going to need a big finish here.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When: Tuesday, March 4, at 6pm Central
Where: The Pavilion in Villanova, PA
Audio/Visual: Villanova hates you, so you'll have to pay for streaming video. Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

December 31, 2013. A putback by Katherine Plouffe and the ensuing and-1 free throw gives Marquette a 41-34 lead with 12:52 left to play against Villanova in the Al McGuire Center. From that point on, the Coyer sisters, Katherine and Caroline would outscore Marquette by themselves, 22-20, with 15 points coming from Caroline, as Villanova came away with a 63-61 lead. Marquette ended up holding the Wildcats without a basket for the final 2:04 of the game, but only managed to pit one three pointer by Katherine Plouffe against five made free throws from the Coyers.

As you can guess, this loss is having an impact on Marquette's season right now. Last night, St. John's snapped a four game losing streak by defeating hapless Providence, thus locking up 2nd place in the Big East this season. Had Marquette been able to hold on to that lead on New Year's Eve, the Golden Eagles could still have a shot at a tie with the Red Storm. Instead, they will need to get through the Wildcats in Pennsylvania tonight in order to at least stay in fourth place and hope for a Creighton loss to Butler to avoid seeing Villanova again on Sunday in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.

In addition to the Big East tournament implications, there are also NCAA tournament issues at stake here as well. Even though Marquette came away with wins against St. John's and Creighton this past week, they're struggling to get into the bracketology conversation. ESPN's Charlie Creme doesn't even include Marquette in his first eight out, even though the Golden Eagles have wins over Central Michigan and Creighton, his first two teams out. Creme has the Wildcats as his fifth team out, so picking up a win against them would do Marquette a world of good. Over at College Sports Madness, the Wildcats are in the field of 64 (yes, 64. Some things aren't totally insane.) as a 9 seed. CSM has Marquette as the fifth team out of the field, so again, a win over Villanova would be a major boost to the Golden Eagles' chances.

Here's what I wrote about Villanova yesterday as I was assessing the state of the Big East standings:

After reeling off six straight wins in the middle of league play, Villanova has split their last two games: wins at home against Georgetown and on the road against Xavier and losses on the road against both St. John's and DePaul. The wins were close affairs, while the losses were both by double digits, and given the quality of opponents and the narrow two point margin in Milwaukee back on New Year's Eve, head coach Harry Perretta can't be terribly confident in his team right now.

The Wildcats are not a particularly dangerous offensive team. Only two players, Devon Kane and Caroline Coyer, average more than 10 points a game, with Coyer only getting to 10.3 per game while usually coming off the bench. Overall, they only average 64.4 points per game, the second lowest total in the Big East. On the flip side, they are the best defensive crew, allowing only 57.4 points per contest.

Taylor Holeman comes off the bench to lead the Wildcats in rebounds at 5.3 caroms per game, while Kane is their biggest helper, handing out 4.3 assists per game, sixth most in the Big East.