2020 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament
#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (22-7, 13-5 Big East) vs #7 Villanova Wildcats (18-12, 11-7 Big East)
Date: Saturday, March 7, 2020
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
Television: FS2, with John Fanta, Kim Adams, and Meghan Caffrey on the call
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 15-10
Current Streak: Villanova snapped a seven game Marquette winning streak on February 21
Season Series: Split 1-1, with both teams winning at home.
Marquette reached Saturday’s quarterfinals by way of finishing alone in second place in the Big East. The Golden Eagles went 13-5 in Big East play, capped off by an upset of regular season champion DePaul in their regular season finale.
Villanova’s path was a little bit more complicated. While the Wildcats finished 11-7 in conference action and tied for third place, tiebreakers knocked them down to the #7 seed, putting them into Friday afternoon’s doubleheader and a game against #10 Xavier. Villanova led by three points at the end of the first quarter and by two at the half, but Aaliyah Dunham buried a three-pointer, the first made triple of the game for the Musketeers, at the horn. That knotted things up at 49 and sent the game to overtime. VU opened up the extra session by scoring the first seven points in the first three minutes, and then never led by fewer than four points for the remaining two minutes.
Here’s what we know for sure about Marquette vs Villanova this season: It has not gone well for the Golden Eagles. Pretty much nothing went right for the final 30 minutes on the trip to Philadelphia late in the season, as the Golden Eagles coughed it up nine times in the second quarter and fell behind by 11 points. That margin blew out to 24 points as Villanova kept banging in three-pointers and nothing would fall for Marquette. Earlier in the year in Milwaukee, Marquette trailed for a large chunk of the first three quarters of the game before Selena Lott kicked up her first six points of the game bridging into the fourth quarter to put the Golden Eagles up six. Solving the defensive riddle that is Harry Perretta’s Wildcats has not been an easy task for the Golden Eagles.
Then again, the same could be said going in the opposite direction. Things have been much harder for Marquette this season in this series, but when neither team scored a point per possession in either of the two contests, that’s something for the Golden Eagles to be proud of. They started the year as a young and inexperienced team, but they held the Wildcats under 65 points on two occasions. The big thing working in MU’s favor both times? Rebounding. Marquette grabbed up at least 40% of their missed shots in both games against VU this season, and while that’s good, that’s actually merely average for the Golden Eagles in 2019-20. They’re the ninth best offensive rebounding team in the country per HerHoopStats.com, and that definitely held true against Villanova. Marquette’s a great defensive rebounding team as well (#27 in the country), and they did better against the Wildcats than Marquette has on average this season.
The thing to always remember about Villanova is that they want to shoot a bajillion three-pointers. The next most important thing to always remember is that VU isn’t very good at it. HHS says they rank #3 in the country in three-point rate, but just #239 in three-point shooting percentage. Nova’s best three-point shooter is 2020 Big East Freshman of the Year Madison Siegrist, and she’s only hitting 31.9% this year. They want to shoot as much as possible, and so they do attempt a whole bunch of threes. However, unless someone lights on fire like Raven James did on Friday (6-for-7 on threes), there’s not really anyone that Marquette needs to respect on defense until they start hitting them.