Villanova vs. Xavier NCAA Basketball Betting Analysis and Free Pick

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Zach Freemantle #32 of the Xavier Musketeers grabs a rebound in front of Jermaine Samuels #23 of the Villanova Wildcats. Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

After not meeting at all a season ago, the Villanova Wildcats and Xavier Musketeers play their second matchup of the 2021-22 season in less than a month when the Big East rivals collide on Wednesday’s NCAA basketball odds card.

Villanova Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 – 06:30 PM EST at Cintas Center

While this is a big game for Villanova and Xavier, it could prove especially crucial for the Musketeers. After sitting idle because of virus issues within the programs of two Big East opponents, Xavier is going to have a tighter schedule on the horizon and this is the last chance the Musketeers have to even things up with the Wildcats should tournament seeding come down to tiebreakers.

Villanova sits even with Providence at the top of the Big East standings, and the Friars could be headed for some downtime after virus issues within their program forced Tuesday’s game with Creighton to be called off. The Musketeers are tied with the Bluejays, each a game behind the Wildcats and Friars.

Last Three Collisions Have Come Up Short of Totals

Most online betting sites opened the game as a pick before Villanova gained a little steam as a very slight favorite. The line is now back down to a pick at several shops while others have the Wildcats as high as -1.5. The scoreboard target is 140.5.

Villanova needed a huge second-half push to beat Xavier in the first meeting a few days before Christmas. The Musketeers were ready to play from the opening whistle and went up by 10 in the first half before taking a 38-30 lead into the locker room. That’s when the Wildcats ramped up their defensive pressure, and Xavier turned cold from beyond the arc to let Villanova rally for the 71-58 decision.

That big second half allowed the Wildcats to cover the 5.5 and helped continue their dominance in the rivalry. The Wildcats have won the last four, and nine of the last 10 to build a 31-6 lead over Xavier. Villanova has covered the betting odds in eight of the last 10, and the December meeting fell short of the total to give ‘under’ bettors the cash in seven of the last 10 clashes.

‘Nova Among the Best at Free Throw Line

Jay Wright knows how important that second half was against Xavier a few weeks back. The Wildcats laid consecutive eggs against Baylor and Creighton prior to the Musketeers coming to Villanova and appeared headed towards a third straight setback before the rally to beat Xavier.

That win was followed by three more Big East triumphs and three more covers for Villanova backers. BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) sold the Wildcats on a -9.5 spread last Saturday at DePaul, and they covered that with more than 5 points to spare in a 79-64 final. The offense really stunk things up in those setbacks to Baylor and Creighton, but the unit sank better than 52% against the Blue Demons.

Collin Gillespie paced the Wildcats with 28 points, his best this season and the sixth time in the last 10 games the senior led his side on the scoreboard. Justin Moore added 21, his second 20+ game in a row. Though they were outscored by three at the charity stripe, the Wildcats hit an impressive 20-of-22 to continue their good showing in that column. Villanova ranks sixth in the country converting 79.6% of its free-throw attempts.

X-Men Have Covered Seven of Last Eight Home Tilts

Give Travis Steele and his staff credit for having the Musketeers ready to roll last Friday following a 17-day layoff. Favored by 6.5 on the road, Xavier took the lead for good six minutes into the first half on the way to an 87-72 final. Adam Kunkel was the star with 25 points in 26 minutes off the bench, and the 87 on their side marked the fifth time in six contests for the Musketeers to eclipse the 80-point mark.

The lone time in that span Xavier failed to reach 80 came against Villanova, and that was a product of poor shooting on the part of the Musketeers along with the defensive effort by the Wildcats. Kunkel sank half of his eight 3-point attempts at DePaul, and if that was a sign of his outside shooting coming around, it would relieve pressure on Nate Johnson to supply the bulk of the long-range offense.

The Pick

Defense has been more prevalent than offense in recent clashes between the Wildcats and Musketeers. Both sides also have a very small lean to the ‘under’ this season, and that has me thinking of a free college basketball pick on the final coming up short.

NCAAB Pick: Under 140.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 140.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.