Pick Villanova vs. Xavier to Stay 'Under' Total

Jeff Grant

Thursday, March 6, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

The Xavier Musketeers will need to come up with a big defensive effort if they plan on knocking off the Villanova Wildcats, as the two teams close out their regular-season series Thursday night. Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA basketball odds for this Big East Conference matchup at the Cintas Center, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Winning games

Villanova is certainly capable of making some noise in the upcoming 2014 NCAA Tournament, as it has established a new program standard for regular season victories in putting together a 26-3 SU record.

The Wildcats have won four games in a row—holding foes to an average of 59.3 points on 36 percent shooting over that span.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the squad is 5-5 SU and 6-4 ATS in March, with the OVER going 5-4-1 in that situation.

Inconsistent

Xavier has been one of the more inconsistent teams in the Big East, as it looks to bounce back from a 71-62 road defeat to the Seton Hall Pirates Monday, while going UNDER the betting total for the third time in four contests.

The Muskeeteers are 45th in the latest RPI rankings, while sitting 40th in terms of schedule strength, which has made them a bubble team in the eyes of many college basketball experts.

A lot on the line

The Wildcats have plenty to play for in hopes of clinching the Big East regular season title with a victory in this spot, while they’ve gone 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS as road favorites of three or fewer points the last two-plus seasons.

Villanova has three probable starters averaging double figures, with James Bell leading the way at 15.1 points a contest.

Bell scored a game-high 27 points on 10 of 14 shooting in a 81-58 blowout victory over Xavier in the first meeting on Feb. 3.

Dangerous underdogs

The Musketeers have a losing 2-3 SU record versus teams currently ranked in the top 25 nationally, but they’ve won and covered the number in their last three opportunities as home underdogs of three or fewer points.

Xavier will be playing without the services of junior center Matt Stainbrook in this affair due to a knee injury, but it has eight other players that average 12 or more minutes of playing time.

Outlook

Sports bettors should take a cautious approach in wagering on this affair, as I established the Wildcats as three-point favorites—mirroring the number sent out by the oddsmakers.

I suggest taking a look at the total for your NCAA basketball pick, as the UNDER is 7-3 in the Musketeers’ last 10 conference games.

Pick: Under 139

[gameodds]14/260354/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

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