Happy Thursday Nova Nation! Your Villanova Wildcats pulled up the “not an upset” upset last night by beating the Marquette Golden Eagles 61-67. There were a few very interesting storylines last night, but by far the biggest was the play of Jermaine Samuels, who went off for a career high 29 points and added 9 rebounds, an assist, and a block. In one night he outscored his last 10 games combined, and had the true breakout game we said someone was going to need in order to break this slump. Even in the pre-game shoot around, it was obvious that Samuels was looking different:
I know it's just warmups, but I was drawn to @J_Swizz23 working around the perimeter in his pre-game workout. From my count, he went 36-51 (70.5%) off both catch & shoot and stepping into the shot. Let's see some of those in the game tonight! @VUhoops @VUhoopsLive— Brendan Reilly (@BrendanReilly37) February 28, 2019
But as Jay Wright has said in the past, winning can mask a lot of things. So here’s a quick look at some of the other storylines from last night’s game.
Winning with defense
While Samuels’ offense was the star of the night, the team as a whole shot the ball incredibly poorly. Outside of Phil Booth’s perfect 10-10 from the free throw line, there wasn’t much to write home about. But unlike the last few games, Nova didn’t let scoring slumps effect their defensive intensity. They stayed committed on defense even when the shots weren’t falling, forcing Marquette into 18 turnovers. With how hot Markus Howard and crew were shooting last night, that’s really what won the game for Villanova.
Jahvon Quinerly was a healthy scratch
After playing 20 minutes against Xavier, Villanova’s freshman point guard didn’t see the court in Wednesday’s big matchup. Normally this would cause some serious backlash from the fans, but it was clear that Jay was trying to shake things up last night. Samuels was a much bigger part of the game plan, they played with a little more pace than usual, and it’s hard to fault Jay for not wanting to mess with a defense that was executing at a high level. Maybe he just didn’t want to change too many things in one game, but it’ll be interesting to see how minutes are distributed this weekend against Butler.
The threes still aren’t falling
Don’t get me wrong, Samuels was great from deep last night. He was 5-13 (38.4%) and led the team in attempts. But no other player made more than one three in the game, and the rest of the team shot 4-19 (21%). I’ll give Joe Cremo (1-1, 100%) a pass for hitting his lone attempt, and Saddiq Bey (1-3, 33%) hit the go ahead three late. But Booth, Paschall, and Gillespie continue to struggle behind the line. They need to find their shot quick, because March is literally tomorrow.
In other “news”, JERMAINE SAMUELS, Omari Spellman loved his time at Nova, and Donte DiVincenzo is finding his way. Enjoy!
Villanova defeats Marquette
Villanova beats Marquette to snap three-game losing streak | SI.com
Villanova was tested by Marquette, but emerged with a morale-boosting win to halt a three-game losing streak and regain confidence late in the season.
Villanova vs. Marquette score: Wildcats top No. 10 Golden Eagles, end three-game losing streak | CBSSports.com
The Wildcats stayed alive in the Big East regular season race with the win.
Samuels scores 29, Villanova beats No. 10 Marquette 67-61 | FOX Sports
Samuels scores 29, Villanova beats No. 10 Marquette 67-61
RECAP: Villanova Wildcats 67, #10 Marquette Golden Eagles 61 | Anonymous Eagle
Breaking news: The Golden Eagles have still never won a game at Finneran Pavilion.
Loss to Villanova keeps MU from clinching share of Big East title | Journal Sentinel
The Golden Eagles had 18 turnovers and allowed the Wildcats to pull down 15 offensive rebounds.
At Villanova’s renovated Pavilion, what’s up (ticket prices) and what’s down (big-donors-only area) | Mike Jensen
The club system based on donation levels gives big donors what they wanted, but rankles some long-time season ticket-holders.
Hawks rookie Spellman thankful for one season spent at Villanova | Amico Hoops
The Villanova Wildcats had four players on last season’s NCAA tournament championship roster make the NBA this year.
Bucks rookie Donte DiVincenzo pain-free, waiting to return for games | Journal Sentinel
The rookie hasn't played in an NBA game since Jan. 1 due to bursitis in his right heel. DiVincenzo has participated in shootarounds on this road trip, though, and felt good.
NBA Draft College Coaches Poll: Upperclassman that are potential first rounders | The Athletic
Coaches break down Eric Paschall, Grant Williams, Bruno Fernando, Daniel Gafford and Jalen McDaniel.
Bubbles and Brackets
March Madness 2019 bracket projections: Gonzaga looks on as ACC jostles for 1-seed | Sporting News
Selection Sunday for the 2019 NCAA Tournament is coming on March 17.
College Basketball Bracketology Seed List For Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | Blogging the Bracket
There’s a new No. 1 overall seed on February’s penultimate day.
March Madness: 12 players who could be 2019 breakout heroes | SI.com
College basketball's stars come out at tournament time, but real March legends are made when players in supporting roles step up in pivotal moments.
March Madness: How safe are NCAA tournament bubble teams? | SI.com
How safe is your team's NCAA tournament spot? As time winds down on the regular season, the bubble teams have even more work to do than usual.