Villanova -15 Over Butler for NCAA Basketball Picks

Willie Bee

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 2:19 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 2:19 PM GMT

You know it's in the back of their minds. So, can Jay Wright keep his Villanova Wildcats focused on the remaining games at hand more than a potential third crack at the Creighton Bluejays in the upcoming Big East Tournament? Let's check out the college basketball betting odds and find out!

Part of that answer may come Wednesday night when 'Nova hosts the Butler Bulldogs in an 8 PM (ET) in Philadelphia. FOX Sports 1 has the broadcast rights, and the Wildcats are showing up as unanimous 15 point favorites on SBR's live college basketball odds.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":259405, "sportsbooksIds":[43], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

These two squads tipped off their conference slates against one another New Year's Eve at Hinkle Fieldhouse, going to overtime before the 'Cats escaped with a 76-73 win. Butler backers barely got the cover on the +3.5 line, a spread that opened at 4 and one we know now really should've closed higher than that given how the teams have performed since then.

It was only the second meeting between the two teams, the other coming in the '96 Puerto Rico which Villanova won. Like December's meeting was for the Wildcats at Hinkle, Wednesday's battle is the first for Butler at The Pavilion.

How to Win Your NCAA Basketball Tournament Pool

Bulldogs Drag 6-Game Skid Into Philly

December's collision really set the tone for Brandon Miller and Butler (12-15 straight up, 11-13-1 against the spread) in the Big East.  The Bulldogs battled yet still got beat by a Villanova team that was coming off its very first loss of the schedule on the road vs. the Syracuse Orange.

Butler was 10-2 entering that game, 1-2 wins better than many thought probable for Miller's crew in the preseason. But what looked promising crumbled from that point on, the Bulldogs winning just twice in 15 games and covering but four, five depending when you got down in the early-February fracas at Marquette.

It's defense that is holding the Bulldogs back more than the offense, though that facet of their game is weak in its own right. Butler is allowing conference foes to score 73.1 points per game and connect on better than 50% of their field goals, numbers that are kept from the Big East cellar in those departments by DePaul's porous D.

The most recent effort against Providence is a shining example of the problems Miller's squad is having. Butler put 81 points up on the scoreboard, its most since a double-overtime loss to DePaul, but the Friars managed to score 87 and swished in shots with great ease hitting 28-of-42 overall and sinking 13-of-20 from 3-point range.

Teams Building Steam Heading in to March: NCAAB Betting

'Nova Scrapes By In Wins Vs. Friars, Red Storm

Villanova (24-3 SU, 17-8 ATS) is a tough team to get a handle on. On one hand, the Wildcats are among the top teams in the country offensively, averaging almost 80 PPG overall and second among Big East clubs at 78.3 points per conference contest. They've only lost three games and are no slouch on the glass or defensively, plus among the top quarter of the country making free throws.

One of those three losses came to a Syracuse bunch that was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation until last week, the other two at the hands of the Creighton Bluejays who have a leading candidate for Player of the Year honors. But ugly losses they were, falling by 16 to the Orange and an average margin of 34.5 points to the 'Jays.

The latest setback to Creighton is one Villanova really has yet to recover. The Wildcats did manage to beat both Providence and St. John's, but only by the skin of their teeth with 3-point victories in each game. It was much the same after the first loss to the Bluejays when the 'Cats just got by in the following two contests before rediscovering their shooting touch.

Butler would seemingly be a good candidate for 'Nova to take on right now to try and get their mojo back before the conference tournament. Fifteen points is a lot, even against a sloppy Bulldogs defense, but I've got confidence in Wright and the Wildcats for my free college basketball pick.

College Basketball Pick: Villanova -15

Season: 41-32-4 (+5.8)

comment here