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Villanova beats Marquette to stay in Big East hunt

The Wildcats are tied for second and closed the gap with Seton Hall’s loss.

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Happy Thursday Nova Nation! A win is a win is a win is a win. Last night was a win, even if only by a point. Right now fans shouldn’t be picky, the Wildcats stayed in the race for the Big East Title, and they’re one more Seton Hall loss away from controlling their own destiny when it comes to a Big East Title. But as far as definitively pegging down what this team is, last night showed the good and the bad that this team can put on the floor.

On the good side, Villanova’s offense can be great. Beat anyone in the country great. However, it’s not something they’ve been able to sustain for an entire game. When it comes in bunches, they seem unstoppable. But the youth and inconsistency this team has displayed will limit how far they can ultimately go in March. Don’t get me wrong, they can be world beaters when the shots are falling and the ball is moving. But consistency will dictate just how far that can take them.

The other limiting factor remains the defense. This team has some good defenders, but the overall unit again lacks the consistency we’ve seen in past seasons. That “hive mind” we’ve seen in Championship runs doesn’t yet exist, and on an individual basis there are still a number of mental errors that lead to breakdowns. It’s what kept the Cats from putting Marquette away last night, and it will be one of the factors working against them in March. They have shown stretches when it can all come together, now they just need to extend those stretches into entire games. I’m not sure that will happen by the end of the season.

On the whole though, there were certainly more positives than negatives to take away from last night’s game. It may have helped us have more realistic expectations of how far this team can go, but I also think I saw a lot of individual improvement as players continue to evolve. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was able to get more involved offensively. Jermaine Samuels continues to be one of the most well rounded players on the team. And I thought Cole Swider is showing improvement in working within his role to contribute off the bench.

Up next for the Cats is a chance to sweep the Big 5 Title. They’ve already clinched a share, and can take the overall lead in Big 5 Titles by beating Temple this weekend. It should be a great opportunity to continue building on the success they’ve had and show further improvement on the defensive end.

In other “news”, Villanova takes down Marquette, Ryan Arcidiacono’s jersey sent to the rafters, and a look at what the Wildcats can do in March. Enjoy!

Villanova Men’s Basketball

Villanova alum Arcidiacono soaks in an emotional return | Sports |
RADNOR — Ryan Arcidiacono received more than his share of standing ovations throughout his career at Villanova.

March Madness 2020 predictions: 8 true title contenders | Sports Illustrated
SI's annual Magic Eight picks eight teams, from Kansas to Michigan State, from which the 2020 NCAA tournament national champion will emerge.

Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono relishes Villanova honor as 'really special' | NBC Sports Chicago
Before he came to the Bulls, Ryan Arcidiacono helped lead Villanova to the 2016 NCAA championship. Now, his No. 15 will be retired and raised to the rafters.

Villanova defeats Marquette

Robinson-Earl Leads No. 15 Villanova Past No. 18 Marquette | The New York Times
Jermiah Robinson-Earl had 17 points and 11 rebounds and No. 15 Villanova held on for a 72-71 victory over No. 18 Marquette on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

College basketball: Villanova, Temple earn wins | The Morning Call
Villanova defeated Marquette and Temple edged Tulane on Wednesday night.

Markus Howard and Marquette fall to Villanova 72-71 at Finneran | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
With a three-pointer at the buzzer, Golden Eagles senior guard Markus Howard became the Big East's all-time scoring leader.

No. 15 Villanova Holds off Markus Howard, No. 18 Marquette in Narrow Win | Bleacher Report
After three straight losses, the No. 15 Villanova Wildcats finally corrected course, defeating No. 18 Marquette, 72-71, Wednesday night in Philadelphia...

Robinson-Earl leads No. 15 Villanova past No. 18 Marquette | WLUK
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- Jermiah Robinson-Earl had 17 points and 11 rebounds and No. 15 Villanova held on for a 72-71 victory over No. 18 Marquette to snap a three-game losing streak. Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels added 14 points apiece for Villanova. The Wildcats had surrendered an average of 75 points during its skid in defeats to Creighton, Butler and Seton Hall.

No. 15 Villanova 72 No. 18 Marquette 71: Stats, highlights and reaction from the Wildcats’ victory | The Inquirer
The Wildcats knocked down seven three-point shots in the opening 12 minutes of the game and led by as many as 18 to take over a share of second place in the Big East.

Wildcats Hold Off No. 18 Marquette 72-71 | Villanova University Athletics
Villanova outlasted Marquette Wednesday night at Finneran Pavilion.

Big East

Seton Hall basketball falls to Creighton as Powell goes ice cold | APP
5 takeaways as the 10th-ranked Pirates dropped their second straight home game

Butler basketball holds off Xavier despite injuries, foul issues | Indy Star
As usual, Kamar Baldwin surges in the closing minutes after the Bulldogs lose Aaron Thompson to a head injury.

NBA Wildcats

Timberwolves' Omari Spellman: Accepts G League assignment |
Timberwolves' Omari Spellman: Accepts G League assignment

Villanova Football

10 WPIAL players selected for Big 33 Football Classic | Trib HSSN
Thomas Jefferson teammates Logan Danielson and Mac Duda were among 10 WPIAL players selected Wednesday for the Big 33 Football Classic.

FCS: Top 10 Way-Too-Early Favorites To Win The 2020 FCS National Title | HERO Sports
Which teams are early favorites to compete in Frisco?

College Basketball

How many good 3-point shooters you really need to win an NCAA title |
If you want an edge when you fill out your NCAA bracket (and who doesn't?) here is a quick tip — pick a national champion that has at least three players who average one or more made 3-pointers a game.

Jay Bilas' college basketball rankings for 2019-20, version 3.0 | ESPN
The Bilastrator puts the nation's best 68 teams into tiers based on their NCAA tournament viability. As always, you're welcome.