The Villanova Wildcats have been the top team in the Big East all season long and the top team in both national polls for the past few weeks, but they could not get past the No. 5 Xavier Musketeers this past Wednesday night in a 90-83 loss as one-point road favorites.
These two conference powers have now split the season series with the 24-4 Wildcats holding a slight half-game lead in the standings at 13-2 straight up in Big East play. Xavier is now 25-3 on the year with a Big East record of 13-3.
This week's Big East betting report once again features one or two teams to possibly go with right now as well as the one or two to go against. I will also release this week's Big East Play of the Week for one of this Saturday's matchups.
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Big East Best Bet
You would have to go with Xavier as the best bet right now in the Big East. With Wednesday's huge victory, the Musketeers are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 games, and they have been able to cover against the spread in their last four outings. The total went "over" 5Dimes' closing 145.5-point line against the Wildcats, and it has gone over in six of their last eight games. The Musketeers have been a solid bet on the road all season long with a 7-3 record ATS in 10 previous games. This Saturday, they will try and keep things rolling in a key road matchup against the Seton Hall Pirates.
It has been a miserable season for the St. John's Red Storm with a SU record of 12-16 while going 13-15 ATS. They are dead last in the Big East standings with just one SU conference win, but they are my honorable mention team this week after covering in their last three outings as part of a 5-2 record ATS over their last seven games.
Big East Bankroll Buster
The Providence Friars won five of their first seven conference games both SU and ATS, but ever since they upset Villanova 82-76 on Jan. 24 as 12.5-point road underdogs, it has been a downhill slide. Following an 85-74 loss to Xavier as nine-point underdogs on the road on Feb. 17, the Friars are 2-5 SU in their last seven games with a costly 1-6 record ATS. The total has gone over in five of their last six contests.
Providence will go on the road this Thursday night as a four-point underdog against Seton Hall. Following a seven-game winning streak ATS, the Pirates have failed to cover in two of their last three games and the total has stayed under in six of their last seven contests.
Big East Play of the Week
Last week, I went with the Butler Bulldogs as 11-point road underdogs against Villanova. Given the Wildcats' struggles to cover double-digit spreads, the strategy paid off with a very tight cover. This Saturday,I have turned my attention to the Bulldogs road game against the Georgetown Hoyas as my Big East Play of the Week. Tipoff from the Verizon Center is set for noon (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Butler is 4-2 SU in its last six games, and it has been a solid bet with a 5-1 record ATS. The two SU losses came against Xavier and Villanova, and three of the four wins came against Georgetown, Seton Hall and Creighton, which is an encouraging sign heading into the postseason. At 18-9 on the year, it will probably take a deep run in the Big East Tournament to secure a spot in next month's NCAA Tournament, but the Bulldogs can also help their cause by closing out the regular season on a strong note starting this Saturday as likely two- or three-point road underdogs against the Hoyas.
Butler has been a solid scoring team all season long behind the trio of Kelan Martin, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, who have combined for 46 of the team's 80.3 points per game. In the Bulldogs' 87-76 victory against Georgetown on Feb. 2 as four-point home favorites. Martin scored a career-high 35 points while going 10-of-18 from the field. Jones added 19 points and Dunham posted another 18 points to help pace the win.
The Hoyas stumble into this game with just one SU win in their last seven games while going a very costly 2-7 ATS in their last nine contests. Three of those losses (SU and ATS) came on their home court, and they are now 6-10 ATS at home this season. Georgetown is scoring 73.1 PPG and it is giving up an average of 70.5 points at the other end of the court. Its points-allowed average has ballooned to 75.9 PPG during this current seven-game slide.
Saturday's matchup is between two teams headed in opposite directions at a very crucial time of the season. I fully expect Butler to take full advantage of the situation with a SU win to sweep the season series.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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