A seven point halftime margin was expanded to double digits within five minutes and never went back down again as #2 seeded Villanova Wildcats roared through YOUR #7 seeded Marquette Golden Eagles in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Big East tournament, 94-70.
With the loss, Marquette drops to 19-13 on the season after going 9-9 in Big East regular season action. From the looks of things, the Golden Eagles are going to be sweating it out between now and Sunday evening when CBS announces the NCAA tournament field. Depending on which bracketologist you prefer, you might find MU in or out of the field right now, so it’s hard to make any real statements one way or another until Greg Gumbel finishes the announcements.
If the second half had been more like the first half, perhaps things could have gone a bit differently for Marquette on Thursday night. As mentioned, Villanova’s lead was just seven, 41-34, at the break, and that was only because of layups by Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth in the final 67 seconds. It was a mostly well contested 20 minutes of basketball, at least once the two sides actually started putting the ball in the net. Both teams didn’t scratch double digits until Sacar Anim scored for Marquette at the 10:56 mark to make it 12-10 favoring the Wildcats.
A close contest was not meant to be, however. A layup by Sam Hauser pulled Marquette within three with exactly 18 minutes to play, and then the floodgates opened. Villanova scored the next 12 points of the game, blowing the lead out to 58-43, and it never got closer than 11 the rest of the way. Villanova shot — and this is not a joke or a typo — 19-for-28 (68%) after halftime, including an 11-for-17 (65%) mark from behind the three-point line. That’s a very very very good effective field goal percentage of 87.5%, and that’s only what it settled at when the final horn sounded. At one point, their eFG% was — seriously, I checked it — 111.1%. One hundred eleven point one percent. Not 101, not 104. 111.1%. That’s how well they were shooting.
That’s what Villanova does to teams this season. They’re the most efficient offense in the country according to KenPom.com, and the Wildcats have a chance to finish the season as the most efficient offense in KenPom history. This is obviously an extremely great version of what they’re capable of, perhaps even redlining their upper limit. When the unstoppable roving death sphere cuts you in half with one of its 43 laser saws, you have to sit back and be impressed with how remarkably quickly the whole affair went.
Marquette didn’t even play badly on offense. 42% from the field, 40% from three, only 10 turnovers in a 67 possession game, 1.05 points per possession according to StatBroadcast. Against a mortal team, maybe they find a way to win, or maybe even win easily. Not against Villanova, not this year, not tonight, not when they’re pissed off about not winning the regular season title for the fifth straight year.
So now, we wait. We point out that Marquette has a record of 4-8 against the best teams they played, aka Quadrant 1 teams, and 4-3 against Quadrant 2. Is 8-11 impressive enough for Creighton athletic director and NCAA selection committee chair Bruce Rasmussen and his motley crew of selectors? We’ll have to wait and see what happens on Sunday night.