The best team in the country still resides in the Big East with the Villanova Wildcats in place at No. 1 in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. They are 22-3 straight-up heading into Wednesday's nonconference matchup against Temple as 8.5-point road favorites on 5Dimes' board for this Philadelphia Big 5 clash.
The Xavier Musketeers are also in the top ten of both major polls with a matching SU record of 22-3 and they will head into a huge Wednesday night showdown against No. 23 Providence as eight-point home favorites. These are the only three Big East team ranked in the polls, but Seton Hall, Creighton and Butler have also received some national attention in their quest to hopefully land a spot in this year's NCAA Tournament.
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This week's Big East betting report will try and point you in the direction of one or two teams in this conference to go with right now as a best bet and well as point out who to go against at the betting window. I will also release this week's Big East Play of the Week for one of this Saturday's matchups.
Big East Best Bet
The 17-7 Seton Hall Pirates have been a hot betting team all season long with a profitable 16-7 record against the spread. They have not played since last Thursday when they fell to Butler 81-75 as 2.5-point home favorite to break a string of four SU wins and seven straight covers ATS. The total went "over" 145.5 points in that game after staying "under" in their previous four contests.
The Pirates will be back in action on Wednesday night as 2.5-point road underdogs against Georgetown before going on the road this Sunday as likely solid favorites against St. Johns. You could make a strong case for going with Seton Hall in both of these matchups, especially coming off a bad loss. It is 8-1 ATS as an underdog this season and 6-1 ATS in seven road games. Two of the Pirates' biggest strengths are under the boards with 40.3 rebounds a game and at the defensive end of the court with a points allowed average of 66.9.
This week's honorable mention goes to the 18-8 Butler Bulldogs. They have basically been a wash ATS this season at 13-12-1, but including the upset against Seton Hall and this past Tuesday's 88-75 victory over Creighton as 5.5-point home favorites, they are 4-1 both SU and ATS in their last five games.
Big East Bankroll Buster
Wednesday night's showdown against Xavier will be a big test for Providence after posting just two SU victories in its last six games. The Friars were able to snap a three-game skid in last Saturday's 75-72 win at home against Georgetown, but after failing to cover as four-point favorites, they are just 1-5 ATS during this same six-game stretch. On the year, they are 19-7 SU with a 15-10 mark ATS, but Wednesday's game against the Musketeers could be a good spot to test their 6-2 record ATS in eight previous road games.
Big East Play of the Week
Last week I took the bait on Villanova as a heavy 26.5-point home favorite in the Wildcats' 73-63 victory against St. Johns. The nation's No. 1 team continues to get it done on the court, but it has been a tough team to bet on in Big East play lately with a 3-6 record ATS in its last nine conference games.
This Saturday, Villanova will play host to Butler as a likely double-digit home favorite and I see this as a golden opportunity to ride the Bulldogs' recent success at the betting window. Tipoff from The Pavilion is set for 2:30 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
The Bulldogs have averaged 86.3 points over their last four wins as opposed to a season scoring average of 80.8 points that was already ranked 27 th in the nation. During their current 4-1 run, sophomore forward Kelan Martin has really stepped-up his game with an average of 22.4 points. He is already the team's leading scorer with 16.2 points a game and he is shooting 40.9 percent from three-point range. Butler, as a team, is hitting 46.9 percent of its shots from the field.
There is a good reason why Villanova is the top team in the nation behind a defense that is ranked eighth in points allowed (61.0), but the betting odds start to stack-up against the Wildcats as heavy favorites. They are 13-10 ATS the spread this season when closing as favorites, but this record falls to 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as double-digit favorites. They are also just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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