NCAA Basketball Picks: Villanova vs. St. John's

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 11:58 AM GMT

The Villanova Wildcats scored a season-high 98 points against the St. John’s Red Storm in their only regular season meeting, as the two teams prepare to face off at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.


Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA Basketball odds for this Big East Conference tournament affair, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Heading south

St. John’s dropped its final four games to close out the Big East regular season, including a 69-67 overtime setback to the Marquette Golden Eagles as seven-point home underdogs last Saturday, while going OVER the posted total of 129.5. 

The Red Storm are 2-8 straight up (SU) and 4-6 against the spread (ATS) in March the last two-plus seasons, with the OVER going 6-3 in that situation. 

Wildcats are likely in the dance 

Villanova likely earned a spot into the 2013 NCAA tournament with its last effort, coming away with a 67-57 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas as one-point home favorites a week ago, while going OVER the total for a third consecutive contest. 

The Wildcats are 10-8 SU and 12-6 ATS versus conference foes this year. 

Harrison will be missed 

D’Angelo Harrison was suspended for the rest of the 2012-13 season by Red Storm coach Steve Lavin on March 1, which really limits the team in terms of its potential on the offensive end. 

The sophomore was averaging a team-high 17.8 points per game, including a 36-point performance in a 98-86 overtime loss to the Wildcats as 7.5-point road underdogs in the team’s conference opener.

Harrison also managed to score 28 points during his first year on campus versus Villanova.

Improvement on the defensive end

College basketball handicappers will find that the Wildcats finished the regular season with a 19-12 SU record and 19-9 ATS mark, which was made possible by their improved play on the defensive end from a year ago.

Villanova allowed conference foes to average just 63.8 points per game this season, which was quite an improvement from 75.6 during the 2011-12 campaign.

The program has struggled at times to defend the 3-point area, allowing foes to hit at a 36.9 percent clip, but St. John’s is one of the worst teams nationally from beyond the arc (27.6 percent).

[gameodds]14/224342/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their college basketball picks Wednesday night, as the UNDER is 5-0 in the Red Storm’s last five games as home underdogs of 3.5 to 6 points.

Even though this game is scheduled as a neutral-site affair, it’s important to note that St. John’s plays a good portion of its games at this particular venue.

College Basketball Pick:  Under 126 at BetOnline