The month of February ushers in the meat of the men's college basketball season as teams really start to jockey for position in their respective conference tournament early next month. The current standings in the Big East through Tuesday's action features three nationally-ranked teams holding down the top three spots followed by a logjam of solid contenders all the way down to Butler at 4-6 straight up in conference play.
The 18-3 Villanova Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the latest AP Top 25, and they continue to set the pace with just one SU loss in the Big East, but No. 6
Xavier has proven itself to be a legitimate contender for the regular-season title at 7-2 SU in conference play. The third nationally-ranked team is the
Providence Friars at No. 11, but a bad loss to DePaul this past Tuesday should cause a significant drop in the next poll.
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The following betting report takes a closer look at which Big East teams have been hot at the betting window and well as which one has been the biggest drain on the bankroll lately. I will also release this week's Big East Play of the Week for one of this Saturday's matchups.
Big East Best Bet
There's no team hotter in the Big East right now when it comes to cashing tickets then the Seton Hall Pirates. They have been all over the board on the court with a SU 3-4 record in their last seven games, but their record against the spread during this stretch is a very profitable 6-1. The Pirates have now covered in their last five games following this past Saturday's much-needed 75-65 road win against Creighton as 5.5-point underdogs on BetOnline's closing betting line.
Seton Hall is now 5-4 SU in Big East play heading into Wednesday night's matchup against Marquette as a seven-point home favorite. The Pirates are 7-3 ATS in 10 previous home games, but their record falls to 6-5 when closing as favorites. They are averaging 74.2 points a game and are ranked second in the conference in rebounds with 40.8 a game.
Big East Bankroll Buster
Villanova may be the top-ranked team in the Big East, but this national power has been tough to bet on lately with an 0-5 mark ATS in its last five outings. The Wildcats failed to cover as 20-point road favorites against St. John's last Saturday, and this Wednesday night they are listed as 12-point home favorites against Creighton. Villanova is an even 10-10 ATS on the year, including a 6-4 record ATS in 10 home games. When it comes to closing as double-digit favorites, the Wildcats have failed to cover their last five times out.
You could also add the Georgetown Hoyas to this week's bankroll buster list after failing to cover in their last four games while going just 1-3 SU. They started play in the Big East on a profitable 6-1 run ATS in their first seven conference games, but this could be a good team to go against in Saturday's showdown against Seton Hall on the road.
Big East Play of the Week
Last week's top play of Villanova over St. John's did not pan out with a higher-than-expected spread, but I have moved on to this Saturday's Marquette game on the road against Xavier. Tipoff is set for noon (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on FOX Sports 1.
The Golden Eagles have won their last three games SU heading into Wednesday's game against Seton Hall, but last Saturday's 75-69 victory against Butler as 2.5-point home underdogs was the first time they covered a spread in their last five games. Overall, Marquette is 4-5 SU in Big East play with a 3-6 record ATS.
At one point this season Marquette managed to rattle off nine SU wins in a row to close out the nonconference portion of the schedule, but the Golden Eagles have struggled with consistency in conference play, including a 74-66 loss to Xavier on Jan. 16 as 6.5-point underdogs at home. They are averaging a respectable 75.5 points a game, but they have failed to meet that number in five of their last six games.
Xavier will first have to face St. John's as a heavy 23.5-point home favorite this Wednesday night before hosting Marquette this Saturday. It is now 4-2 ATS in its last six games following last Saturday's 86-65 romp over DePaul as a 10-point favorite on the road. The Musketeers are 13-6 ATS this season when closing as favorites as part of an overall ATS record of 14-7.
Sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett has been the team's leading scorer with 15.4 points a game, but this lineup has been balanced with a total of six players averaging at least nine points. Xavier is hoping to have James Farr back on the court for Saturday after missing time with a leg injury. He is scoring 10.6 points and shooting 55.3 percent from the floor. The Musketeers are averaging 79.9 points a game, which is the third-highest total in the Big East.
These are two teams heading in the opposite directions. And while there is some risk in this pick given another expected high double-digit pointspread, I still like Xavier's chances to pull off the season sweep both SU and ATS with a big win at home.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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