Free NCAA Basketball Pick for Villanova vs. DePaul

Willie Bee

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:48 PM GMT

College basketball bettors are faced with a strange revenge/look-ahead matchup for their college basketball picks on Wednesday's slate when the DePaul Blue Demons host the Villanova Wildcats.

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The Big East clash is set for an 8 PM (ET) tip at Allstate Arena. For DePaul, it's a revenge situation after losing at Villanova a little more than three weeks ago, that setback beginning a 6-game slide for the Blue Demons. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are in a look-ahead spot with a weekend collision with Creighton, one of only two teams to beat the Wildcats this season.

Villanova opened -13, and that spread remains at many shops with some dropping it a half-point. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have the total as soon as it is released.

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DePaul is actually out to avenge seven straight setbacks to the Wildcats who hold a 17-8 lead in this series. One of those Villanova victories was in Rosemont last season when the clubs went into the locker room level at 40 apiece.  The Wildcats, favored by three, then turned on the afterburners to pull away with an easy 94-71 decision. Ryan Arcidiacono led the 2nd-half charge as the 'Cats shot better than 67% from the field and made 21 of their first 27 shots.

Villanova had another huge 2nd-half when the squads met earlier this season, scoring 55 in the final 20 minutes for the 88-62 dubya. That game slid past a 142.5 point total, giving 'over' bettors the cheese in the last five meetings. The Wildcats have a slim 4-3 edge vs. the spread during their 7-game win streak vs. DePaul.

'Nova Commences 3-Game Road Trip

After the teams met in January, Villanova (21-2 straight up, 16-5 against the spread) welcomed Creighton to Philadelphia and promptly got whipped. The Wildcats are beginning a 3-game trek with Wednesday's tilt, and included on that journey are the Bluejays who host Jay Wright's troops Sunday.

Considering I've already got that game on my mind to preview and provide a free NCAA basketball pick for SBR, it is impossible to imagine the 'Cats aren't already thinking about it.

Then again, Villanova certainly didn't dwell on the previous matchup with Creighton, so maybe Wright's crew isn't pondering the next one. The Wildcats have since reeled off five straight wins, and four covers, one of the double-victories coming a little more than a week ago with an 81-58 home decision vs. Xavier. Favored by 9, 'Nova used yet another 2nd-half surge paced by James Bell's game-high 27 to easily beat the spread.

The win vs. the Musketeers, as well as last Friday's triumph against Seton Hall, failed to reach the total, which goes against Villanova's season-long trend to the 'over.' The Wildcats began the season with 13 of their first 17 lined games passing the scoreboard hurdle, but three of the last four have not made it to the mark. All four totals in that stretch have been 140 or better.

Blue Demons Search For Offense After Melvin Bows Out

Likewise, the last two times DePaul (10-14 SU, 11-12 ATS) took the court, 'under' bettors have been rewarded following six consecutive 'over' winners. Some of the responsibility for the Blue Demons' overall 9-12 O/U lean falls on an offense that sits in the middle of the country averaging just over 71 points per game. And putting points on the board isn't going to get any easier for Oliver Purnell's group now that leading scorer Cleveland Melvin has officially left.

Melvin was suspended in late-January for violating team rules, and DePaul announced Monday the senior was no longer enrolled. The 6-8 forward has been a starter his entire Blue Demons career, and was on top of the scoring (16.7 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg) and blocks (1.6 bpg) columns at the time of his suspension.

In the four games Melvin has missed already, DePaul is averaging less than 67 PPG. Purnell is being forced to try and make up for his star's absence with the likes of Sandi Marcius, Forrest Robinson and DeJuan Marrero. Robinson might be the best long-term answer, though long-term for the Blue Demons doesn't figure to extend much past one game in the Big East Tournament.

I'd really like to have a chance to make a play on the total right now instead of the spread, but lazy oddsmakers aren't going to let that happen. My suspicions are the number will be in the low-140s, and while the series trend is 'over,' I'm leaning 'under' at this time. I'll bite the bullet and lay the points on the Wildcats.

College Basketball Pick: Villanova -12.5