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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs #1 Villanova Wildcats

Win or lose, it’s probably not going to be a picnic for the Golden Eagles on Sunday.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 18 Div I Men's Championship - Second Round - Wisconsin v Villanova Photo by Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Marquette Golden Eagles (13-7, 4-4) vs #1 Villanova Wildcats (19-1, 6-1)

Date: Sunday, January 28, 2018
Time: 12pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 22.1 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 5.8 rpg
Assists: Andrew Rowsey 4.3 apg

Villanova Stats Leaders

Points: Jalen Brunson, 18.8 ppg
Rebounds: Omari Spellman, 7.5 rpg
Assists: Jalen Brunson, 5.2 apg

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #43
Villanova: #1
KenPom Projection: Villanova has a 79% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 86-77.

Tempo Free Fun: We should probably deal with the injury situation for both clubs. Marquette sophomore Sam Hauser is currently listed as day-to-day with a hip issue. The Stevens Point native played just three minutes in the second half against Xavier on Wednesday due to the status of his hip as head coach Steve Wojciechowski saw no point in putting him out there in a game that was slipping away from the Golden Eagles. I would guess that Hauser will still be in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon, but if the game gets out of control, he may end up spending the rest of the contest on the bench.

Villanova’s injury is much more serious, as we already know that the Wildcats have lost a player who had started every game so far this season for them. Phil Booth, whom you may remember from his 20 point performance in Villanova’s national championship victory in 2016, has broken a bone in his hand and will be out indefinitely. Booth was averaging 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 2018, and he zapped MU for 10/5/4 in the first meeting this season.

Broken hands seem to be the theme of the season, as Villanova has been dealing with two other guys suffering roughly the same malady. Collin Gillespie made his return to the lineup on January 17th after missing 8 games, but he hasn’t contributed all that much in terms of minutes or shots. Jermaine Samuels went out of the lineup in late December with a broken bone in his hand, and has yet to return. According to VU Hoops, he’s not expected to return to the lineup until mid-February.

That’s why the Booth injury is particularly fascinating. As we talked about in the preview for the first game, Villanova isn’t a very deep roster. Now, that was with Gillespie and Samuels out, and now they’ve essentially traded Gillespie for Booth. The good news is that is a bad trade for the Wildcats, at least at a glance. The medium news is that Marquette has no film on how Villanova will operate without Booth in the lineup, as the injury happened since they last played. The bad news is that if you made me pick one coach in the country to figure out a way to play without one of his most important role players off a short bench, I’d probably pick Jay Wright, and at the very least he’d be in the top five.

In theory, trading out Booth for more of Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree or a lot of Gillespie should be an advantage for Marquette. But this could end up just meaning more responsibility for Nova’s stars trio of Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Omari Spellman. It could also mean that the Wildcats will lean on Donte DiVincenzo or Eric Paschall for some big moments. The question becomes how the Villanova roster absorbs Booth’s 28 minutes of action per game. Those minutes have to go to someone. This may be one of the rare occasions where Marquette may be best served by turning the offensive focus away from their usual three-point barrage and towards taking it to the rim. Villanova’s depth has never been thinner this season than it is right now, and Marquette attempting to get the Wildcats in foul trouble early may be the right way to go.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 6-4, including alternating losses and wins in the last five games.

Villanova Last 10 Games: 9-1, with the earlier win over Marquette in Philadelphia kicking off a six game winning streak.

All Time Series: Villanova leads, 21-10

Current Streak: The Wildcats have won 10 of the last 11 games against Marquette.

Greg Elliott Watch: The freshman from Detroit is already up to a three-way tie for the sixth most blocks by a freshman. His 19 so far this season ties him with teammate Sam Hauser and Charles Luter, who had his freshman campaign in 1987-88. Up next is current MU women’s basketball assistant coach Scott Merritt, who had 25 in 2000-01.

Theo John Watch: Hey, look, a new category. John recorded two blocks against the Musketeers to give him 13 on the season. That has him one short of a three-way tie for the ninth most swats by a MU freshman. Rod Grosse, Jerel McNeal, and Deonte Burton all recorded 14 blocks in their freshman season.

Andrew Rowsey Watch: Thanks to his one made three against Xavier, Rowsey now has 67 on the season, which is tied with John Cliff and Jake Thomas for the seventh most by a Marquette senior. He needs eight more attempts to push in to the top 10 in three-pointers attempted.

Markus Howard Watch: We should probably open the door here: After 33 points against Xavier, Howard is now six points away from the top 10 sophomore seasons in MU history. Maurice Lucas had 448, Howard sits at 442. His 71 made three-pointers are tied with Aaron Hutchins for the fourth most by a sophomore. He needs two more three-pointers to tie Anthony Pieper and Darius Johnson-Odom for the 10th most in any MU season and the third most by a Marquette sophomore. Howard’s 185 three-point attempts are the 5th most by a sophomore, surpassing Dominic James at 184. He’s still seven away from the all-time top 10 in long range attempts in a season.

Follow Along On Twitter

@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@NovaMBB - Official Villanova account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
@VUHoops - SB Nation’s Villanova site
@becb_sbn - SB Nation’s Big East site
@BenSteeleMJS - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat reporter