Villanova vs. Virginia NCAA Basketball Picks: Defenses Keeping Game 'Under' 130

Willie Bee

Saturday, December 19, 2015 2:42 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 2:42 PM UTC

Is there a Final Four preview on Saturday when the Virginia Cavaliers host the Villanova Wildcats?  Could be, and we're breaking down the game with a free NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Baketball Pick: Under 130
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


When teams and players deal with finals and the end of the fall semester this time of year, it's often difficult to find solid matchups on the college basketball betting card. That isn't the case Saturday, however, with a fixture filled with intriguing clashes, three battles between ranked squads among them.

Though a subjective exercise, it's difficult to argue the juiciest of all contests pits the Villanova Wildcats and Virginia Cavaliers going at each other. The Wildcats come in ranked 12/13 in the latest release of the two conventional polls while the Cavaliers sit 8/9 according to the writers and coaches. Adding to the allure for the noon (ET) tip on ESPN2 is listing Virginia No. 1 with Villanova just three slots behind.

Suffice to say there should be a March Madness atmosphere at a jam-packed John Paul Jones Arena for the matchup that finds the Cavaliers laying 4-4½ points after the NCAA basketball odds started at -3½. Bettors interested in playing the scoreboard can find a nice, even 130 for the total at 5Dimes.

Indeed, two of the six times these teams have met previously came in the month of March.  The most recent collision was in the second round of the 2004 NIT when 'Nova posted a 73-63 victory on its home floor against the Cavs. They were also in Philadelphia for the opening round of the '92 NIT, Virginia pulling off the 83-80 victory en route to an eventual championship in the tourney.

That '04 tournament matchup was the most recent contest; Virginia holds a 4-2 series lead and last hosted the 'Cats in Charlottesville nearly 20 years ago (Nov. 1987).


'Cats Running Hot & Cold From 3-Point Land
Villanova (8-1 straight up, 6-2 against the spread) has just the one hiccup, though it was a big one nearly two weeks ago in Hawaii at the Pearl Harbor Invitational. Favored by 5 against Oklahoma, the Sooners rained treys on the Wildcats in a 78-55 beating that saw 'Nova fall behind 15-3 early. While the Sooners were converting 14-of-26 from beyond the arc, Jay Wright's troops were simply awful from outside hitting only 4-of-32 long range heaves.

The Wildcats took about a week off after that one and did rebound, both literally and figuratively, from the lone defeat with a 76-47 crushing of an overmatched LaSalle squad. Villanova rediscovered its 3-point shooting (13-28) in their second Big 5 win of the campaign as five players scored in double figures.

Freshman Donte DiVencenzo, a key player off Wright's bench, missed the game against LaSalle and is expected to remain out the next 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot.


Bennett's Boys In Search Of 8th-Straight Win
Virginia (8-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) has reeled off seven consecutive victories since suffering its only setback in mid-November at George Washington. The first three of those dubyas came in the Charleston Classic where the Cavaliers were favored by at least 16 points the entire tournament and took down George Mason for the title.

They've gotten back to playing Tony Bennett style basketball in the last three trips to the floor, picking up wins over Ohio State, William & Mary and West Virginia. All three contests remained 'under' the totals, and the only game Villanova failed to cover was the 64-58 decision in Columbus where the Cavs were favored by seven.

One of the biggest disparities between these two teams can be found in the shooting column where Virginia ranks ninth in the country connecting on 51% of its field goal attempts while 'Nova is115th (44.8%). The squads are fairly level in scoring defense, each among the top 10 in the land. I do like Virginia at home, but am making my free NCAA basketball pick on the defenses keeping this one below the total.

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