Villanova Battles Creighton For Big East Supremacy

Jason Lake

Saturday, December 31, 2016 1:59 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 1:59 PM UTC

Someone’s undefeated streak will be snapped this Saturday when the No. 10 Creighton Bluejays host the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats. Which team is the stronger NCAAB pick?

Record: 1-2 ATS, 2-2 Totals

God bless the Villanova Wildcats. What other team could win a National Championship and still have betting value the next season? Villanova was the No. 4 team on the college basketball preseason rankings; the ‘Cats had to wait until Week 5 before taking their rightful place at No. 1, where they remain today at 13-0 SU and a healthy 7-5 ATS.

But there’s another Big East team that’s doing even better – at least when it comes to the NCAAB odds. The No. 10 Creighton Bluejays (13-0 SU, 9-3 ATS) have flown under the radar since leaving the Missouri Valley Conference in 2013, but they have yet to lose a game this year, and they opened as 1.5-point home faves for Saturday’s game (1:00 p.m. ET, FS1) against the Wildcats. This should be fun.

Lucky Thirteen

Going undefeated is nice and all, but some 13-0 teams are better than others. Villanova have played a stronger schedule up to this point, including away wins over Purdue (+2.5) and Notre Dame (+5). Creighton’s toughest challenges were at home versus Wisconsin (PK) and on the road at Nebraska (+4).

No offense to the Cornhuskers, but the difference in schedules is enough to make Villanova’s performance considerably more impressive. Ken Pomeroy has the ‘Cats rated No. 5 overall (No. 2 offense, No. 19 defense) in Division I, with an Adjusted Efficiency Margin of +27.98. Creighton checks in at No. 19 overall (No. 7 offense, No. 71 defense) and +19.97. That’s a difference of eight points over 100 possessions.

Slow Cooking

Barring extended over time, these teams won’t get in 100 possessions on Saturday. The Wildcats are one of the slowest teams in Division I at 68 possessions per game; the Jays are much quicker at 76.1 possessions. Let’s split the difference and call it 72 possessions, which would make Villanova about a 6-point favorite on neutral ground. Shave off another 3.5 points for playing in Omaha, and you get... let’s see, carry the one... Villanova –2.5.

Or we could go with the Simple Rating System at Sports-Reference. They’ve got Villanova at +23.3 SRS and Creighton at +19.8, for a difference of 3.5 points per game. That would make Saturday a pick ‘em. Two sources equals good journalism, right? Plus, the Jays have moved from –1.5 to –1 since the open, a good indication that the sharp money’s on Villanova. Let’s put the ‘Cats in our college basketball picks while there’s still some plausible profit margin on the table.

Free NCAAB Pick: Villanova +1Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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