Big East Heavyweights Xavier-Villanova Go Toe to Toe, Who Lands Decisive Punch?

Xavier Basketball

Doug Upstone

Saturday, February 17, 2018 3:18 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 3:18 PM UTC

According to those who are assembling the brackets for the Big Dance, Villanova and Xavier are both No. 1 seeds. That might not be the case next week after they meet for a second time Saturday afternoon.

Villanova Wildcats vs Xavier Musketeers

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Free Basketball Pick: Xavier +105Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

Villanova is scuffling a bit, having lost two of their last three and has fallen out of first place in the Big East. In their place has charged Xavier to the top of the conference. The Musketeers have not lost since being drubbed 89-65 as a 9.5-point road underdog to the Wildcats, with nine consecutive victories (7-2 ATS).

The opening college basketball odds for this clash have Villanova as a 1.5-point away favorite, which if using the standard methodology of minus four points for a team playing at home, the spread in perfectly in sync with the closing odds of the previous contest. What should you as a bettor be looking for, let's go over the situations for both clubs.

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Villanova Missing Valuable Commodity

The Wildcats (23-3, 17-9 ATS) were sailing along and then lost guard Phil Booth to a fractured hand. The junior guard was a glue-guy, who not only averaged 11.6 points a game but added better than three rebounds and three assists per contest. When he was first injured, there was an immediate concern what sort of impact this would have on Villanova.

Two areas that have become problematic is Nova's defense and three-point shooting. Jay Wright's team had been allowing less than 70 points per game, but since Booth exited, they are permitting 77.6 PPG. Though the Wildcats still have plenty of shooters, because they are facing more duress, the three's are not falling as freely and having another experienced player would help.

Xavier Rolling But...

The Musketeers (24-3, 19-8 ATS) have built a lot of momentum during this winning streak, yet they are not always overwhelming and have shown an inclination towards a treacherous habit. Put aside blowout wins over Marquette and Creighton and in the Zavier's other seven victories in this stretch, the average margin in victory is 6.1 PPG.

Granted, these are Big East battles and there will be plenty of close encounters, but coach Chris Mack's team has not always helped itself. The Musketeers has frequently jetted to big leads and not only let off the gas but became overly satisfied with what they had accomplished and let opponents right back into games. It can be very difficult to reverse momentum, but thankfully for Mack, he's relied on seniors Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura to stem the tide.

Who Gets The 'W' and Cover?

For college basketball picks I will take Xavier. Maybe Villanova returns to prior form, but I do not think they will, being a bit off. The Musketeers have the revenge factor, are playing at home and have witnessed enough runs by opposing teams and still stood tall after 40 minutes. Xavier proves they deserve a No.1 seed on FOX at 4:30 Eastern.

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