Temple & The Over Are The Smart Plays For Tonight's Clash At Nova

Temple Owls player

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 1:54 PM GMT

The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats are in action on their home floor Tuesday night when the Temple Owls are large underdogs on the NCAA basketball odds. Our expert capper breaks down this matchup with his free pick.

Season: 14-12 (+0.80)

No team had ever gone through three consecutive Philadelphia Big 5 slates with a perfect 4-0 record until Villanova accomplished the feat the past three seasons. Tuesday night at home, the top-ranked Wildcats will get a chance to do it for a fourth straight season when they host the Temple Owls.

The old rivals hit the hardwood at The Pavilion for a tip-off a little past 7 PM (ET), FOX Sports 1 providing the pictures. Bookmaker is providing a spread and total for the matchup, burdening Villanova with 16½ point chalk while the scoreboard mark has been steadily rising to 140½.

Will 'Nova Be Temple's Third-Ranked Victim?

Temple, of course, is hoping to deny Villanova another perfect Philly 5 run, mostly because the Owls would love to have the honors themselves with their own 4-0 record through the rivalry. Fran Dunphy's crew has already taken down La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Penn with hopes of their first outright championship in the series since 2009-10 when Temple also made a 4-0 flight.

The Owls have also been hell on ranked teams in the early going, knocking down then-Nos. 25 and 19, respectively, Florida State and West Virginia in the NIT Season Tip-Off a couple of weeks back. Both games came as upsets on the NCAA basketball odds, and Temple is coming off a 74-65 win over Villanova's rival from the Big East, DePaul.

Unlike seasons past when the Big 5 schedule would be spread out on Villanova's season fixture, the Wildcats got all four games early this year and packed within the last two weeks. Jay Wright's band beat Penn, Saint Joseph's and La Salle in succession following Thanksgiving, covering the first two before a losing ticket in last Tuesday's 89-79 decision vs. the Explorers. The Wildcats started slow last Saturday against Notre Dame, but rallied behind Josh Hart for a 74-66 victory, just besting a closing -5 line.

'Over' Has Been Safest Recent Wager

This has been a very close rivalry over the years, the 89th meeting coming roughly 94 years after the Owls and Wildcats first collided in 1921. After winning the last three in a row, Villanova owns a 46-42 advantage, the 'Cats covering each of those victories with all three going 'over' totals in the 132½-153½ range.

Temple's last win against the Wildcats came in 2012 at The Pavilion, the 76-61 final an easy cover for the Owls who were 4 point road favorites. Six of the last seven proved to be winners for anyone playing the high side of the totals.

My expectations for this game are pretty much the same as Villanova's tangle with La Salle last week. So, let's double up with a free college basketball pick on the Owls and the 'over.'

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple +16½, Over 140½

Best Lines Offered: at Bookmaker

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