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Marquette Men's Lacrosse Preview: vs #6 Villanova

HERE. WE. GO.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There are six games left in the Marquette men's lacrosse season.

Four of them, including Saturday's contest against Villanova, are against ranked opponents.

Three of them, including Saturday's contest against Villanova, are against teams ranked in the top six in the country.

Marquette needs - and yes, the right word is needs - to win at least one of these four games in order to get into the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

Only one of these games - yes, this game against Villanova - is at home.

I don't want to say that the entire season is riding on these 60 minutes of lacrosse against a top 10 ranked team with one of the best scoring offenses in the country, but yes, that's pretty much exactly what's happening.

Marquette has never been competitive in each of their three games in program history against Duke, Denver, and Notre Dame.  The Golden Eagles have beaten Villanova once in three tries, though.  They get the Wildcats at home in front of a friendly crowd at Valley Fields.  The goal for the season as laid out by head coach Joe Amplo is to get to the 16 team NCAA tournament.  They don't have to beat Villanova to get there.  There are other routes.  Things get awfully easier awfully quick if they can do it, though.

Big East Game #2: vs #6 Villanova (6-2)

When: Saturday, April 2, 2016, at 1pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has a link to free streaming video for this game. That would be a new addition, so we'll see if it works.  Live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: Marquette Lacrosse drawstring bags & water bottles for the first 500 fans in attendance!  Plus, the Spirit Shop will be selling gear down in the Valley.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

I didn't see Tuesday's game where the Wildcats played #3 Brown and lost 19-8 after trailing 7-2 after the first quarter and 11-2 at halftime.  This was not for lack of trying.  I wanted to watch the game, since 1) Marquette's next opponent and 2) a pair of top 10 teams squaring off, and 3) the two best scoring offenses in the country.  I ended up being pleased that Villanova makes you pay for their live streams, because I would have ended up turning the stream off at some point after Brown's fourth or fifth straight first half goal.

The point is that I don't know exactly what Brown was doing to the Villanova offense to completely handcuff them.  They were obviously doing something to limit an offense to half as many goals as they usually score per game, which means that I hope that Marquette head coach Joe Amplo got to see this game.  The Golden Eagles have the second best scoring defense in the country, so they're already doing something right already.  Brown held Villanova under 12 goals for the first time this season, so there has to be something that Amplo can steal from the Bears' defensive structure to hamper the Wildcats on Saturday.

Jake Froccaro will draw the most defensive attention for Villanova.  The junior transfer from Princeton is leading the country in goals per game with 3.88, and he's eighth in points per game with 4.63.  Of course, he's been doing this without having to play against noted offensive dampener B.J. Grill.  If Grill can shut down Kieran McArdle and Matt Kavanagh, he can do a number on Froccaro.

Froccaro takes 27% of Villanova's shots, but it's not like the rest of the team is shy about firing.  They've taken 414 shots as a team, and only Duke and Virginia have fired away more than the Wildcats.  Their shots mostly don't go in (32nd in the country at shot percentage), but they're firing 17 more shots per game than anyone else in the Big East.  Y'know who's averaging the second most shots?  Marquette.