Pair of Wildcats Road Chalk In Hoops Action Wednesday

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 1:34 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 1:34 PM UTC

No. 3 Villanova is a 9-point favorite at Providence, while Davidson is spotting Virginia Commonwealth a 3-pointer in Richmond on Wednesday night. Will they both win and cover the spread? Our thoughts:

No. 3 Villanova (-9) vs Providence

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Free NCAAB Picks: Under 153.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

No. 3 Villanova (23-2 SU, 17-8 ATS) has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Providence (16-9 SU, 8-15 ATS), including an 89-69 rout at Wells Fargo Center in late January. A lot has changed for the Wildcats since, likely missing two key players for this matchup. Junior guard Phil Booth (11.6 ppg) broke his hand late in the first encounter and hasn’t suited up since. Junior forward Eric Paschall (10.1 ppg), meanwhile, is day-to-day in concussion protocol, missing the last two games. Both players average over 28 minutes per contest. Jermaine Samuels and Collin Gillespie, a pair of freshmen, are picking up extra minutes in their absence.

The Wildcats own the most efficient offense in the country per KenPom. They lead the Big East in 3-point shooting, draining 40.8 percent in all games. Even for an elite unit, this rate is inflated. Regression has started. Villanova is 14-of-51 (27.5 percent) from beyond the arc in its last two games hosting St. John’s and Butler.

The last six games for Villanova have gone ‘over’ the total. A 164.0 final score is soaring past a 156.8 game total by 7.2 points per game. A porous defense is the catalyst. The Cats have allowed all six opponents to score more than projected in the betting market, surrendering 76.5 points per game. Guarding the perimeter is proving a challenge. Foes are hitting 39.7 percent from deep.

As for Providence, don’t read too much into its ugly 80-63 home loss to DePaul last time out. Rodney Bullock (14.6 ppg) and Kyron Cartwright (10.9 ppg), two of the Friars’ top three points-getters, were slowed by flu symptoms. The duo scored a total of 14 points. Head coach Ed Cooley regretted playing them after the fact. Senior guard Jalen Lindsey (10.1 ppg), one of four on the team averaging double figures in points, missed the contest with a concussion. Although the Friars have had four days to rest, Lindsey is a game-time call and Cooley claimed Cartwright and Bullock “weren’t very good” in terms of their health on Monday. It’s tough to envision any of them being at their best coming off their health issues here. The offense, like against the Blue Demons, will suffer most. Here's Cooley lamenting the last loss:

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Friars drop one at home to DePaul, hear what Coach Cooley had to say after the game. #GoFriars

— PC Men's Basketball (@PCFriarsmbb) February 11, 2018

The ‘over’ streak Villanova is on has come against much quicker and softer opponents then the Friars. Providence ranks 207th in tempo nationally, and turns nearly every matchup at Dunkin’ Donuts Center into a physical, grind-it-out affair. Since Cooley took over, it has held the Wildcats to 74 points or fewer in regulation time in five meetings in the building. Villanova averages 68.2 points per game when not factoring in overtime. The Friars have claimed victory in just one.

As 9-point favorites with a game total opening at 153.5 points, the market predicts the Cats will reach 81 points. They’ll come up short, and so will the Friars. Pick ‘under’ the total.

Davidson (-3) vs VCU

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Free NCAAB Pick: VCU +155Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

Davidson (13-10 SU, 11-10 ATS) enters tied for second in the Atlantic 10 standings at 8-4 SU overall. The team rides the talent of forward Peyton Aldridge. The senior ranks fourth in the conference with 20.0 points per game, and has reached double figures in 32 straight contests. Aldridge is typically tepid against VCU (15-10 SU, 11-10 ATS). He has scored more than 15 points against the Rams once, averaging just .28 points per minute.

The Rams are experiencing some growing pains under first-year head coach Mike Rhoades, their third new leader in the last four years. The program is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years. Losing eight players from last year’s squad, solidifying an identity has been tough. The defense is inconsistent, and outside of senior forward Justin Tillman, there is no telling where scoring will come from on a nightly basis.

The Rams, however, are starting to gel after losing for the first time in almost three years to cross-town rival Richmond (67-52) in late January. They are 4-2 SU and ATS in their last six games, the offense maturing. It averages 79.7 points per game in this stretch, hitting 48.5 percent from the floor. The scoring boost is a product of taking advantage of efficient shots near the rim. VCU has scored 40 points or more in the paint in four of the contests. It did this once in the previous 19 games.

Since joining the A-10, Davidson is just 7-14 SU (12-9 ATS) on the road against conference foes with an average scoring margin on the plus side. VCU owns a 2.1 points differential. The Cats have tipped off favorites six times under these conditions. They are 2-4 SU and ATS. The defense tends to roll over, yielding 80.3 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting. Moreover, Davidson owns just one win at the Siegel Center, a 2005 NIT victory. VCU dominates down low against an undersized Cats squad and pulls out an underdog win. Pick the Rams straight up.

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