Under normal circumstances, the Bradley Center is typically one of the toughest venues in the conference to score a win. Marquette's passionate fan base and the travel time to get to Milwaukee have made it a place to fear. While it won't be a cakewalk on Saturday for Villanova, Steve Wojciechowski's team is battered, beaten and bruised.
Marquette is just 10-12 on the season and 2-8 in the BIG EAST. Leading scorer Matt Carlino hasn't played since suffering a concussion in Villanova's 70-52 win in Philadelphia. If Carlino still isn't cleared to play, the Golden Eagles could be looking at another double-digit defeat, especially with the way Villanova has looked lately.
Here are three things to consider ahead of Saturday afternoon's game.
Can Luke Fischer rediscover his form?
After a blazing start to his Marquette career, Fischer's production has really tapered off. He's still averaging over 10 ppg on the season but just 7.9 ppg since mid-January. He's also not getting it done on the glass (just 4.8 rpg). In the first matchup with Villanova, Fischer notches just 9 points and 5 rebounds and was forced in to 3 turnovers by Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston - and they both individually outrebounded him.
It's not really a fair fight for him since the balance of Marquette's rotation seems more comfortable on the perimeter, but given the current form of both Ochefu and Pinkston, it's going to be vital for Fischer to have a big game on Saturday if Marquette stands a chance at springing the upset.
What's the status of Carlino?
Before his injury, Carlino was actually having a really good game against Villanova. His final line of 9 points (3-6 3FG), 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals was really only marred by 4 turnovers. There were some reports that Carlino was set to play in the last game vs. Creighton, but was rightfully held out as a precaution. He could be back this weekend, and he'll have a bit of extra motivation to make his presence felt.
Carlino accused Ryan Arcidiacono of this "bush league" play that resulted in Carlino's concussion (and from what I can tell, has stood by his comments). There's no telling how effective a player will be when he hasn't played in a couple of weeks, but Carlino has proven several times this year that he can take a game over at a moment's notice.
Will the Darrun Hilliard show continue?
Before the season, Hilliard proclaimed himself the best player in the conference. And despite the strong season he's had, he's not garnered much traction in the Player of the Year conversation. He might be forcing a lot of the media to change their mind about him at a crucial point in the season.
Over his last four games, he's averaging 20 ppg while shooting nearly 47% from 3-point range. He's got 2-3 big stages left to make his mark, and if this pace continues he'll be very hard to keep off the All-BIG EAST 1st Team, and might just throw himself into the race for Player of the Year if Villanova runs away with the conference title as expected.