Nursing a slim lead at the top of the Big East standings, the Villanova Wildcats hit the road Monday for a crucial college basketball odds contest against the Georgetown Hoyas.
The first couple of months of the 2014-15 college basketball betting schedule has been pretty kind to Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats. They won the Legends Classic with victories against Virginia Commonwealth and Michigan plus topped old Big East nemesis Syracuse while making it through the first 18 games with only one loss.
Still, there's plenty of work if Wright and the Wildcats are going to follow through as favorites to win the Big East, and Monday's trip to face longtime rival Georgetown will no doubt provide a tough test.
The Hoyas will be home underdogs for the first time this season, the initial Villanova -4 line holding on SBR's live NCAA Basketball odds. FOX Sports 1 begins its broadcast of the game at 9 PM (ET), a total around 132 showing up currently.
Villanova will be looking for its first 4-game win streak in the series after sweeping last season's meetings and grabbing the dubya in the only get-together of the 2012-13 campaign. The matchup a year ago in DC was a 65-60 decision for the 'Cats who outscored the Hoyas 22-8 from the free-throw line. Georgetown backers got the cash as 5½ point underdogs, and it marked the second consecutive 'under' at Verizon Center.
Despite Villanova's recent run vs. the Hoyas, Georgetown owns a 42-31 all-time lead in the series. The teams will meet again less than three weeks from now in Philadelphia where the Wildcats have won three of the last four matchups.
'Nova Grabs 2nd-Straight Big 5 Title
To everything Villanova (17-1 straight up, 10-6-1 against the spread) has already accomplished, you can toss in another perfect run in the Big 5. The Wildcats took a short vacation from the conference slate this past weekend for a date against Pennsylvania, posting a 62-47 victory to finish off the Philly sweep after taking down LaSalle, St. Joseph's and Temple earlier this season.
Saturday's win over the Quakers was Villanova's fourth in a row, but also marked the second time in three games that 'Nova backers went bust. The win streak started after losing at Seton Hall in overtime a little more than three weeks ago, that setback halting a 13-0 start to the campaign and coming as 7 point chalk on the NCAA odds.
The setback to Seton Hall was definitely the low-point of the season for the 'Cats offensively. What has been a very balanced group of scorers suffered through an 18-for-58 (31%) afternoon down in Newark, but has since found success on more than 47% of their field goal tries and better than 42% from 3-point land (44-of-104).
Hoyas Looking For 3rd-Straight Win
Continuing that fine shooting against a Georgetown (12-5 SU, 5-8-1 ATS) group that always prides itself on defense won't be easy. The Hoyas are holding opponents to 39.4% from the field, second among Big East squads and top 60 in the country, and under 33% outside of the arc.
John Thompson III's team is coming off a 61-59 win Saturday over Butler, and should be feeling good after rallying late in a game that went back-&-forth the final nine minutes or so. The victory left Georgetown 9-1 at home, but the Hoyas have only managed to cover one of their last four Verizon Center appearances.
It's easy to imagine a tightly-fought, physical battle that ends in the low-120s between these two, but I'm expecting a little more offense tonight for some reason. My free NCAA Basketball pick for this Big East collision will be on the high side of the total.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Villanova-Georgetown Over 132 at BetOnline
Season: 20-26 (-8.60)