TV Schedule: Wednesday, Jan. 13, 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Arena: The Pavilion, Villanova, Pa.
The Big East is arguably one of the most difficult conferences in college basketball, but so far that has not been a problem for the Villanova Wildcats. Undefeated in conference play, the Wildcats are the only team in the country to survive an opening gauntlet as difficult as the then No. 6 Xavier Musketeers at home, the Creighton Bluejays on the road, the Seton Hall Pirates at home and the then No. 18 Butler Bulldogs on the road.
Things won’t get any easier for Villanova, as next up for Jay Wright and Co. is a sneaky difficult matchup with the Marquette Golden Eagles, who have turned things around since their dismal 0-2 start to Big East play.
Like their initial 0-2 start to conference play, the Golden Eagles opened the season poorly, winning just two of their first three. Since then, however, Marquette went on an 11-2 run that includes a nine-game winning streak. When the Golden Eagles’ defense comes to play, they are clearly one of the best teams in the Big East, as evidenced by their road victory over the Providence Friars. When Marquette’s defense does not come to play, they get crushed, as they did against Seton Hall.
Although I expect Marquette to make the 2016 NCAA tournament, Villanova is a class above the Big East at the moment. It is highly doubtful that the Wildcats go through the entirety of Big East play without a loss, but Villanova is playing their best basketball of the season right now and their loss will come on the road, not at home.
Prediction: Villanova 78, Marquette 66