Villanova has been a very good basketball program for many years, so I was surprised to hear that the Wildcats had never been the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll until Monday. They jumped up from No. 3, with both previous No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 North Carolina losing last week (Heels did it twice). The Wildcats had been ranked No. 2 seven times, most recently in the final poll of last season. Of course, Villanova won the 1985 national title in upset fashion over heavy favorite Georgetown, but the AP doesn't do a poll after the season.
No. 1 Villanova at DePaul (+13.5)
An 8:30 p.m. ET tipoff for this Big East game on Fox Sports 1. Villanova (20-3, 10-1) certainly deserves that No. 1 ranking (it also is in the USA Today poll) as the Wildcats' three losses are to ranked teams Oklahoma, Virginia and Providence. Nova got payback on the Friars on Saturday, winning 72-60 at Providence. Darryl Reynolds, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson combined for 52 points, 25 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and five steals. Those were four of the team's starters and they entered this season with just a combined four starts in their college careers. Villanova played a third straight game without center Daniel Ochefu, who is dealing with a concussion. He averages 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds and is questionable for this one. Reynolds has been starting for him.
DePaul (8-15, 2-9) lost at Creighton 88-66 on Saturday. The Bluejays used a 12-0 run to lead 33-17 and wouldn't look back. Myke Henry led the Blue Demons with 22 points and eight rebounds. It was his second straight game with at least 20 points, a career first for the senior. This is the first meeting of the season between the Blue Demons and Wildcats. Villanova won both last season, including by 13 outside Chicago.
Key trends: Villanova is 19-7 ATS in its past 26 vs. teams with a losing record. DePaul has covered only four of its past 15 in the Big East. The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings.
I'm leaning: DePaul covers.
No. 9 North Carolina at Boston College (+20)
This ACC game tips off at 9 p.m. ET and isn't nationally televised, which is unusual for North Carolina. UNC (19-4, 8-2) is on its first two-game losing streak of the season. The Heels lost last Monday at ranked Louisville and then were beaten Saturday at Notre Dame, 80-76. The Irish turned it over just twice, the fewest against a Roy Williams-coached Heels squad. That helped make up for the fact that the Irish were just 3-for-16 from 3-point range. Notre Dame got 38 free-throw attempts, making 31 of them. That latter number is the second-most against a Williams-coached UNC squad. Brice Johnson scored 14 points and had 14 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double and 14th of the season for Carolina.
Boston College (7-16, 0-10) lost its 10th straight on Saturday and none have been close. Louisville did the deed this time, 79-47 at home. The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead and it was over. Eagles leading scorer Eli Carter was just 1-for-9 from the field for two points. Only one BC player scored in double figures and that was Sammy Barnes-Thompkins with 11. These teams played in Chapel Hill on Jan. 30 and the Heels won 89-62. BC was down just one, 24-23, before the Heels blew it open with a 15-0 run. Johnson had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Carolina, which scored 30 points off 23 BC turnovers. Carter had 19 for Boston College.
Key trends: The Heels are 10-2 ATS in their past 12 vs. teams with a losing record. BC is 2-9-1 ATS in its past 12 vs. the ACC. The Heels are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Boston College.
No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue (pick'em)
A 7 p.m. ET tip for this Big Ten game on ESPN. Michigan State (20-4, 7-4) has won four straight in impressive fashion since a three-game skid. The Spartans visited a good Michigan team on Saturday and rolled 89-73. Bryn Forbes hit seven 3-pointers and had 23 points in the first half alone; he finished with 29 points. Forbes has hit 14 of his past 20 from long range. Denzel Valentine had 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Michigan State. Sparty shot a season-best 64 percent from the field. It was MSU's largest margin of victory in Ann Arbor since 2001. The Spartans led by as many as 30 with 2:48 to play. The news isn't all good for MSU as point guard Tum Tum Nairn could be out another month with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He hasn't played since Jan. 14.
Purdue (19-5, 7-4) lost at Maryland 72-61 on Saturday. The Boilermakers led by four with just under six minutes left but the Terps went on a game-clinching 9-0 run. It was their 12th straight loss on the road to a Top 5 team. Purdue hasn't beaten a ranked team yet this season. Its last over a Top 10 team was Feb. 2, 2011, against No. 2 Ohio State. It is 13-1 at home this season, with the lone loss to a very good Iowa team. This is the only regular-season meeting between the teams. The Spartans have won the past seven in the series.
Key trends: Purdue is 8-2 ATS in the past 10 after a loss. MSU is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
I'm leaning: Purdue.
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