MU Travels To No. 8/9 Villanova Sunday
Feb. 28, 2014
TV Info: CBS | Radio Info: 540 ESPN | Watch Online
The Marquette University men’s basketball team (17-11, 9-6 BIG EAST) opens a two-game road swing at No. 8/9 Villanova (25-3, 13-2 BIG EAST) Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. CBS will feature the television broadcast, with Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (analyst) calling the action from the Wells Fargo Center. Following Sunday’s matchup, the Golden Eagles will head directly to Providence for a March 4 contest, which will mark MU’s final road game of the 2013-14 regular season.
Marquette & Villanova Familiar League Opponents
Villanova holds an 13-9 advantage in an all-time series that dates back to 1960, but over half of the matchups have come since the Golden Eagles joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06.
Sunday’s matchup with the Wildcats will be the 12th between the two programs since sixth-year head coach Buzz Williams took over in 2008-09 (15th since 2005-06). MU hasn’t faced any single BIG EAST opponent on more occasions that it has Villanova. The team is 4-7 versus the Wildcats under Williams, with one of the victories (82-78, Jan. 28, 2012) coming at the Wells Fargo Center.
Along with matchups in the BIG EAST Conference Championship, the two teams also squared off in the 1963 National Invitation Tournament and the 1980 NCAA Championship. Marquette downed the Wildcats 66-58 in the NIT, but fell 77-59 in the opening round of the NCAA’s in Providence, R.I.
In the first matchup this season on Jan. 25, junior guard Todd Mayo scored 10 points in the final minute of regulation to help force overtime, but Villanova was able to pull away for a 94-85 decision. Senior forward Davante Gardner led the way for Marquette, finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds in 39 minutes.
Depth Of BIG EAST Difficult To Match
With the postseason rapidly approaching, the BIG EAST is well positioned to place multiple teams in the final bracket. Consider these facts, through games of Feb. 27.
- The BIG EAST has seven teams in the top-60 of the latest KenPom Rankings, second only to the Pac 12 (more total members), tied with the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC, and more than the SEC and all other leagues.
- Nine league schools have a strength of schedule in the top-50 according to KenPom, more than any league besides the Big 12.
- KenPom ranks the BIG EAST as the third-toughest conference in the country and RPIRatings.com lists the league fourth, thanks in part to the narrow differential (second-smallest among all leagues) between its top and bottom programs.
Marquette Looking To Continue BIG EAST Success
Marquette has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success since joining the BIG EAST in 2005-06. In the eight campaigns since MU started play, the Golden Eagles are the lone team to finish .500-or-better in BIG EAST play each of those seasons. With Thursday night’s win over Georgetown, MU has assured itself of extending that run .
As a result, Marquette is the only current member of the league to compete in the NCAA Championship each of those eight years as well.
Gardner, Thomas Use Different Approach In Win Over GU
Gardner netted a game-high 26 points, finishing 8-of-10 from the floor and 10-of-12 from the charity stripe. Each of his baskets came inside the paint. Thomas, on the other hand, knocked down 6-of-9 shots from behind the 3-point line and had 22 points in 33 minutes of action.
Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in the last eight matchups and has now made six treys in a contest on two occasions in the last four outings. He was the first MU player to knock down at least six treys in a game (vs. Xavier Feb. 15) since Maurice Acker was 6-of-6 from behind the line in a win over Providence on Jan. 17, 2010. A transfer from South Dakota, Thomas matched that program’s single-game record with 10 3-pointers against Chicago State (2/26/11).
Anderson Provides Rebounding Help Against Hoyas
Junior guard Juan Anderson finished with seven rebounds in 19 minutes in the win over Georgetown, returning to a level of contribution he was familiar with in non-conference action.
The Oakland, Calif., native averaged 4.8 boards per contest in non-league play, but has grabbed an average of just 2.3 caroms per outing in BIG EAST Conference outings. In the five games previous to Thursday night’s win, Anderson had collected a total of just five boards.