As the nonconference portion of the men's college basketball season presses on, the Big East is once again hanging its hat on the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats as the top-ranked team in the conference. However, with teams such as No.12 Xavier, No. 15 Providence and No. 18 Butler also showing up in the AP's Top 25, it's starting to draw some early attention from the betting public.
The following is this week's Big East betting report with a closer look at a few teams to go with as well as go against right now along with my free pick of the week.
Big East Best Bets
The Xavier Musketeers have drawn the most attention with their straight up 9-0 start and a profitable 6-3 record against the spread. They have now covered in their last five games following Tuesday's 90-55 romp against Wright State as heavy 23-point home favorites. The total went "over" 5Dime's closing 136.5-point line in that game, and it has now gone over in the Musketeers' last four games.
Providence would be next on the list at 8-1 SU with a 5-3 record ATS after posting a big 74-72 upset over Rhode Island this past Saturday as a three-point road underdog. The Friars have now covered in three of their last four games. Earlier in the season, they made a statement in a 69-65 upset against Arizona as six-point underdogs in the Wooden Legacy Tournament.
The 7-1 Wildcats suffered their first SU loss of the season in a 78-55 pasting on Monday at the hands of Oklahoma in the Pearl Harbor Classic as five-point favorites, but they still deserve an honorable mention for their 5-2 start ATS.
Big East Bankroll Busters
The toughest Big East team to bet on this season has been DePaul Blue Demons with a 2-4 start ATS. They were one of the best bets in Big East play last year with an 11-6 record ATS, but going back to a late-February loss to Creighton they have now failed to cover in eight of their last 10 games. DePaul is 4-3 SU through its first seven games this season. And despite the fact that it has scored 76 points or more in its last five games, the total has stayed under in five of six games with a posted betting line.
St. John's could be another good team to go against right now after failing to cover in its last three outings. Overall, the Red Storm are 5-3 SU, but they fell to 3-5 ATS after they could not cover as 7.5-point home favorites in this past Sunday's 63-56 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn.
Big East Play of the Week
Looking ahead at the Big East schedule over the next few days, the one matchup that caught my eye was Saturday's heated rivalry between No. 23 Cincinnati and the Xavier Musketeers. The AAC's Bearcats are off to a solid 8-1 start SU, but in the five games with a closing betting line they are an even 2-2-1 ATS . Last Wednesday they came up short against another Big East team in a 78-76 loss to Butler as 5.5-point home favorites. Cincinnati has now failed to cover in its last three games.
In the loss to the Bulldogs, Cincinnati led by five points at the half, and it was able to extend that lead to eight points early in the second half. However, it could not hold off Butler down the stretch behind a couple of big 3-point shots by Kellen Dunham. The top scorer for the Bearcats in that game was Octavius Ellis with 16 points, and on the year he leads the team in scoring with 11.0 points per game.
Xavier's strong start has been fueled by a highly-balanced attack on offense that features six different players scoring in double figures. Trevon Bluiett has had the hottest hand with an average of 15.9 PPG, and he is shooting 46.7 percent from the floor with a 47.2 shooting percentage from 3-point range. Overall, the Musketeers are averaging 83.2 PPG, and on defense they are holding opposing teams to just 64 PPG.
There is no love lost in this bitter rivalry and Xavier comes in with a 3-1 record both SU and ATS in the last four meetings, including a big 59-57 upset last season as a 2.5-point underdog on the road. Look for the Musketeers to open as slight favorites at home in this Saturday's clash, and I like their chances to maintain the edge in this inter-city showdown with another SU win that covers the spread.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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