Thursday, March 12, 2009

Big East Tournament Quarterfinals - #4 Villanova/#5 Marquette Preview

To the Wildcat faithful-

The major question for Marquette remains - can they beat an elite Big East opponent, without Dominic James, who is out for the season with a broken foot? The Golden Eagles staggered through the stretch run without James, dropping their final four games and costing them a precious double-bye spot, as they landed in the #5 position, one game behind the Wildcats. Marquette was actually in first place at one point in the season, prior to James' injury - no mean feat in a 16-team conference loaded with powerful teams. Yet they were not able to secure the precious double-bye by finishing in the top four...

That having been said, Marquette turned in undoubtedly the finest performance of the dozen teams that have thus far played in Madison Square Garden. Yesterday, the Golden Eagles had built an astonishing 38-10 lead over St. John's at halftime; the 10 points allowed in a half was a record low for the nearly-three decade history of the tournament.

Marquette is assured of a NCAA bid, regardless of how well they do in New York; moreover, the Selection Committee takes injuries into account, so the losses without James might be somewhat mitigated.

All-time Series: 7-6, Villanova

Despite being mid-sized Catholic basketball powers, the two teams did not meet regularly until Marquette joined the Big East. Prior to that, Villanova led the series 5-2. The most prominent, recent pre-Big East meeting was Marquette's thrashing of Villanova in Madison Square Garden, in the first game for the fabled incoming class of Allan Ray, Randy Foye, Curtis Sumpter, and Jason Fraser, in November 2002; superstar Dwyane Wade led the way for the Golden Eagles in that contest. Jay Wright is just 2-4 against Marquette in his career.

Here's a recap of the second game between the schools this year, then-#13 Villanova's victory over then-#10 Marquette at the Pavilion, back on February 10...

I'll have a full recap after the game - and hopefully, there will be a need for a preview tonight of the Wildcats taking on either Providence or Louisville tomorrow...

For other Villanova/Marquette previews, please check out the following sites - I highly recommend them:

Pete's Let's Go 'Nova site

I Bleed Blue and White site site

Villanova By the Numbers (VBTN)

'Nova News

And for a valuable opponents' perspective, take a look at Cracked Sidewalks
for an outstanding Marquette site...

Go Wildcats!

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