College Basketball Betting: Weekly Big East Handicapping Report
by Dave Schwab - 3/4/2015
This week marks the final round of regular-season games in the Big East before the start of the annual conference tournament on Wednesday, March 11, at Madison Square Garden. We already know that the No. 4 Villanova Wildcats will be the top seed when action gets underway after posting a straight up 15-2 mark in conference play with one game to go. There is a logjam from there in the current standings with just a game and a half separating the next four teams.
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 in these final few games along with my free pick of the week.
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Big East Best Bets
Villanova finally failed to cover in its current 11-game winning streak in this past Tuesday's 76-74 victory against Creighton as a 9.5-point road favorite on 5Dimes' closing betting odds. The Wildcats are now 21-9 against the spread heading into their regular-season finale at home against St. John's this Saturday afternoon.
It has been a rough season for Creighton with a SU record of 13-17 that includes a 4-13 SU battle through the Big East, but the Bluejays have turned things around at the betting window with a 5-1-1 record ATS in their last seven outings. They are still just 14-15-1 ATS on the year heading into their season finale against Xavier on Saturday.
Big East Bankroll Busters
The No. 21 Butler Bulldogs and the No. 24 Providence Friars are the only other two nationally-ranked teams in the Big East right now, and they will close out their regular season against one another on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 60-54 loss to Georgetown this past Tuesday as three-point home favorites to fall to 4-3 SU and a costly 2-5 ATS in their last seven games. They are still a positive 16-12 ATS this season while boasting a SU record of 21-9.
The Friars will go on the road to face Seton Hall on Wednesday night as slight 2.5-point favorites. They have been struggling a bit as well with an even 4-4 SU record in their last eight contests while going just 3-5 ATS. This past Sunday they did manage to beat the Marquette Golden Eagles 77-66 to cover as 9.5-point home favorites.
The Golden Eagles have been one of the biggest bankroll busters in the Big East down the stretch with a five-game losing streak both SU and ATS. They head into Wednesday night's matchup against St. John's as 1.5-point underdogs at home. Marquette has actually failed to cover in nine of its last 10 games.
Big East Play of the Week
Georgetown let me down last Saturday as my 'play of the week' in an 81-70 loss to St. John's as a 1.5-point road favorite. However, this past Tuesday's upset of Butler has renewed my faith in this team heading into the Hoyas season finale against the Seton Hall Pirates this Saturday afternoon on their home court in a nationally-broadcast game on FOX.
The Pirates have been one of the bigger disappointments in the Big East this season with a SU record of 6-10. They snapped a six-game losing streak this past Saturday with a tight 67-66 victory against Creighton that ended as a "push" to go to 1-5-1 ATS in their last six games. Seton Hall will have its leading scorer, Sterling Gibbs, back for Saturday after serving a recent two-game suspension for hitting another player, but overall this team is ranked 148th in the nation in scoring with 68.9 points per game while shooting just 41.9 percent from the field.
Georgetown remains in position to lock up the No. 2 seed for the Big East Tournament with a win in its finale. The Hoyas should open as solid seven- or eight-point home favorites after beating Seton Hall 86-67 on Feb. 10 as three-point favorites on the road. They have the edge in scoring with 71.3 PPG, and they are a better-shooting team with a field-goal percentage of 45.8. The real advantage in this matchup could be the current form of junior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. He matched his season scoring average with a game-high 16 points in the win against Butler while pulling down seven rebounds.
The Hoyas know they have to build some momentum heading into next week's conference tournament, so I expect them to turn up the juice in front of the hometown crowd this Saturday in another convincing victory over the Pirates.
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