NCAA Basketball Picks Villanova vs. Creighton

Willie Bee

Sunday, February 16, 2014 1:31 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 1:31 PM UTC

The Creighton Bluejays rained treys on the Villanova Wildcats when the teams met in Philadelphia a few weeks ago. So, what plan has Jay Wright come up with to keep that from happening Sunday when the best two teams from the Big East get together again?

Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the showdown from Omaha's CenturyLink Center beginning at 5 PM (ET). A quick check of the NCAA basketball betting board shows the Bluejays giving up 3.5 after opening at -3.

Oddsmakers are once again dragging their feet releasing a total, which is especially lazy considering they lined this matchup recently. The first clash closed at 147, so expect the scoreboard hurdle to be at or near that point once it does come out.

The latest rankings by the writers and coaches agreed that 'Nova was No. 6 while Creighton came in 17/18. Only a half-game separates the two teams in the Big East Conference standings; the Wildcats own that slim advantage with a 10-1 mark at the top of the league.

The second matchup between the two this campaign is the fifth meeting all-time. Villanova won the first three before Creighton slapped the Wildcats around last month at Wells Fargo Center. The Bluejays were getting 6.5 on the road and led wire-to-wire in the contest thanks to their sharpshooting from beyond the arc. 'Over' bettors were already counting their winnings with more than four minutes remaining in the game.

'Cats Reach Omaha On 6-Game Win Streak

Villanova (22-2 straight up, 17-5 against the spread) was able to quickly put the 96-68 loss to Creighton out of mind by winning six games since then. Five of the six victories put money into the pockets of Wildcat backers, and the last four triumphs have been by an average margin of 20+ points.

Part of the Bluejays' big night in Philly can be attributed to their own hot shooting, but Wright understands his squad also contributed to the massacre.

"We went after them very aggressively; we trapped, we just did everything really aggressively, and they sliced it," the 'Nova coach said earlier this week. "I think everybody realized that is not the way to play them. Now we've got to adjust."

Sunday's tilt is the second of a 3-game road trip for Villanova, the first taking place this past Wednesday at DePaul. The Wildcats were the ones who were zeroed in this time, hitting 15-of-26 tries from 3-point range in the easy 87-62 victory over the Blue Demons. Darrun Hilliard II led five 'Nova players in double-figures with 22 points, and JayVaughn Pinkston recorded his second double-double of the season with a 14/11 effort.

'Jays Survive At Butler Following Loss To St. John's

While Villanova has been red-hot since losing to Creighton (20-4 SU, 13-9 ATS), Greg McDermott's lads have been in a bit of a funk. The Bluejays have managed to win four of their five contests following the record performance in Philadelphia, but they've failed to cover the last four games, including an outright loss at St. John's, and the jumpers haven't been falling at nearly the same clip as they did vs. the Wildcats.

Creighton did bounce back from the setback at the Red Storm with a 68-63 decision at Butler on Thursday, but it certainly wasn't as dominating a performance as many expected for the Bluejays against a Bulldog team that is sharing the basement of the Big East with DePaul. The good news is they're back home now where the Bluejays are a perfect 13-0 (7-4 ATS). That unblemished mark will be tested by a Villanova team that is 11-1 away from home (9-3 ATS), 7-0 in conference play.

My crystal ball says the Wildcats will pass the test and at least keep this game close enough for the cover. The visitors are getting my free pick nod on Sunday.

My pick: Villanova +3.5

Season: 36-29-4 (+4.1)


comment here