Butler & 'Nova Will Not Make It To The Total

Villanova Wildcats

Willie Bee

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 3:04 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 3:04 PM GMT

We've got an early look and free college basketball pick for a crucial Hump Day collision between the Butler Bulldogs and Villanova Wildcats. Nova has revenge on their minds after their last encounter.

Season: 37-34-2 (-0.40) one pending

When they met the first time, the Butler Bulldogs stopped a 20-game win streak for Villanova and proved the defending champion Wildcats weren't going to go through their Big East schedule without a scratch. Now, as they come together again, Villanova is scratching at the door to lock up the No. 1 seed at Madison Square Garden a couple of weeks from now when the league tourney gets underway.

Holding a 3-game lead over Butler in the Big East race, and 3½ ahead of Creighton with the Bluejays looming on the slate this Saturday, Villanova can capture at least a share of the regular season title with a win tonight. This will be the next-to-last game at The Pavilion before the venerable arena undergoes a facelift, and FS1 will carry the broadcast beginning at 9 PM (ET). Bookmaker's overnight numbers for this one were nice and round, Villanova -10 with 140 for the total.

 

'Cats & 'Dogs Both Coming Off Solid Shooting Efforts

After dropping three of four, Butler (21-6 straight up, 15-10 against the spread) has strung together consecutive wins over St. John's and DePaul. Both contests took place in Indianapolis, the Bulldogs covering the NCAA basketball odds in taking down the Red Storm and just missing a -17 spread against the Blue Demons. Kelan Martin came off the bench to combine for 33 points in the two games, Butler shooting very well in each contest hitting 67-of-117 overall (57.2%), and netting 20 of 46 tries from long-range.

Villanova (26-2 SU, 13-13-1 ATS) won its 7th-straight this past weekend with a lights-out performance on the offensive end. The Wildcats shot a season-best 67% from the field in the 92-70 decision at Seton Hall as four starters put up double-digits, highlighted by Jalen Brunson's double-double (22 pts, 10 reb). Kris Jenkins also had 22 thanks to hitting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. It was the 3rd-straight game Jay Wright didn't have the services of Darryl Reynolds due to injured ribs, and the senior forward is questionable tonight.

 

Butler Seeks 1st Series Win In Phily

Chris Holtmann's kids battled back from a halftime deficit to beat Villanova on January 4, the sold-out Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd seeing their guys beat the Wildcats for the 1st-time ever in Big East play. It was Butler's first win over Villanova since the cherry meeting at the 1996 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the 'Cats winning all seven after that. The game in Philly a year ago went to Villanova, 77-67, just shy of an 11 point line favoring the Wildcats. It went 'over' the mark after the previous two Big East meetings at The Pavilion stayed 'under.'

Which coach has their team ready to play at the opening tip could decide this one. For Holtmann and his staff, it will require keeping their Bulldogs relaxed and not clenched up mentally believing this one is do-or-die, while Wright needs to keep his squad from thinking they've won anything yet. My free college basketball pick is on the scoreboard wall never being breached.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 140 Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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