Katin Reinhardt scored 19 points, including the seven points in the final two minutes of the game, as Marquette landed a massive win over No. 1 Villanova, 74-72, on Tuesday night.
This was the second straight win for the Golden Eagles over a top ten team, as they went into Omaha and knocked off then-No. 7 Creighton on Saturday. Those are two massive victories for a team that seemed destined to find themselves on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
The Wildcats held a double-figure lead for much of the game and were up 70-57 late in the second half before Marquette came storming back. The run was capped by Reinhardt, who hit a baseline jumper, a three-pointer and the game winning free throws late in the contest.
Here are three things we can take away from this game:
1. Marquette is probably going to the NCAA tournament: I say probably because I’ll never put it past a group of college kids to do something totally unexpected, and given that this Marquette team is not exactly known for their defensive prowess, I can envision a scenario where they lose too many dumb games to stay above the bubble’s cut line.
That said, this is the difference-making win for them. They already have a win at Creighton – which likely looks better now than it will on Selection Sunday – as well as wins over Vanderbilt, Georgia and Seton Hall. They don’t have an awful loss, and it will stay that way so long as Pitt can avoid doing things like losing to Louisville by 55 points for the rest of the season. They still get Xavier at home, Butler at home and Creighton at home. Those are winnable games for this group.
In other words, their profile today is strong enough to get an at-large bid and they have opportunities left on their schedule to build on that profile.
But perhaps more importantly …
2. … Marquette is dangerous: This wasn’t just a fluky win. This team is pretty good. Offensively, they are one of the most efficient teams in the sport. They shoot the heck out of it, ranking fourth nationally in three-point percentage, and employ a small-ball lineup around Luke Fischer that makes them very difficult to guard. When they get into a rhythm shooting the ball, they can put up points in a hurry.
Should I mention that Marquette won this game despite getting basically nothing from Markus Howard, who has been one of, if not their best player? (That’s not true, actually. He did chip in with one missed shots, two turnovers and five fouls.) This group isn’t overly talented, but they have the balance to absorb an off-night from one of their best players. Seven of the eight guys in their rotation averaged between 9.4 points and 13.0 points.
Their issue is on the defensive end of the floor, but their answer came with a 1-3-1 zone that Steve Wojciechowski threw at Villanova. That’s not going to work every night, but it did on Tuesday night.
3. Sometimes the shots just don’t go down: Villanova was 6-for-34 from three on Tuesday night.
That’s 17.6 percent.
Jalen Brunson, a 44.6 percent three-point shooter, was 0-for-5. Kris Jenkins, a 42.9 percent three-point shooter, was 0-for-5. Donte Divicenzo, a 34.4 percent three-point shooters, was 0-for-6. That’s not going to happen often.
Do they deserve some criticism for settling? Yes. Is it worrisome that they blew a lead because they didn’t have another option offensively down the stretch? Eh, not really. No one has proven to be better winners than Villanova over the course of the last three and a half seasons. Everyone has a bad night.