The Big East regular season comes to a close this week in advance of next week's conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. The No. 3 Villanova Wildcats laid claim to the regular-season title this past Tuesday night by rolling over DePaul 83-62 to move to 15-2 straight up in conference play with Saturday's home game against Georgetown remaining on the schedule.
The No. 5 Xavier Musketeers are 13-4 SU and the second seed in Big East. They will finish the regular season at home against the Creighton Bluejays on Saturday as well. The 9-7 Bluejays are in the mix with Seton Hall (11-5) and both Butler and Providence at 8-8 for the next few seeds for next week's conference tournament.
This week's Big East betting report once again features my top team to go with heading into the postseason as well as a good team to possibly go against. I will also detail my Big East "Play of the Week" for one of this Saturday's matchups.
Big East Best Bet
Seton Hall could be the sleeper team to watch in the Big East Tournament. The Pirates have now won their last four games SU while going 3-1 against the spread. They are coming off one of their biggest victories of the year after beating Xavier 90-81 this past Sunday as two-point home underdogs. They will close things out starting with this Wednesday's road game against Butleras five-point underdogs on 5Dimes' current betting line before Saturday's season finale on the road against DePaul.
The 21-7 Pirates are a profitable 19-8 ATS this season and they have really paid off big as underdogs with a 10-1 record ATS when getting points. The total has stayed "under" in seven of their last nine games behind a solid defense that is allowing 66.5 points per game. They are also one of the best rebounding teams in the Big East with 40.4 a game.
Big East Bankroll Buster
Georgetown has dropped its last five games SU to fall to 7-10 in Big East play, and heading into Saturday's season finale against Villanova it has failed to cover in seven of its last 10 conference games. The Hoyas did manage to cover as 3.5-point road underdogs in Tuesday's 88-87 loss to Marquette, but they are just 1-3 ATS in their last four road games and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as underdogs.
The Hoyas will undoubtedly be heavy road underdogs this Saturday against the Wildcats, and they are likely to open next week's tournament as underdogs in their opening-round game given the team's current position near the bottom of the standings.
Big East Play of the Week
I have been able to build my bankroll on Butler the past two weeks, and I am riding the Bulldogs again in this Saturday's home game against Marquette. Tipoff from Hinkle Fieldhouse is set for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Net.
Marquette comes into this contest with a SU 8-9 conference record following Tuesday's tight victory against Georgetown, but it has now failed to cover in three of its last five games. The Golden Eagles are 19-11 SU overall, but they fall to 12-17 ATS. They have been a tough team to figure out down the stretch with an even 4-4 record (SU and ATS) ever since posting an impressive 75-69 victory against Butler on Jan. 30 as 2.5-point home underdogs. Marquette remains one of the better scoring teams in the Big East (75.7 PPG) behind freshman Henry Ellenson's 16.4 PPG, but he has been unable to eclipse this average in four of his last five starts. Defensively, the Golden Eagles have allowed an average of 72.3 points.
Following that loss to the Golden Eagles, Butler has been a solid betting team down the stretch with a 6-1 record ATS in its last seven games after stumbling out of the blocks with one ATS win in its first nine conference games. The Bulldogs appear to be building some solid momentum heading into the postseason with important SU wins against Seton Hall on the road and Creighton at home during this seven-game run. The only two SU losses were to Xavier and Villanova, but they covered against the Wildcats as 11-point road underdogs.
Look for the Bulldogs to open as seven- or eight-point home favorites against Marquette, but I can easily see both Kelan Martin and Kellen Dunham putting on one last show for the home-town crowd to help cover that spread. Each player is averaging 16 PPG as part of Butler's 80.6-point scoring average that is the best in the Big East.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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