Can Villanova return to form against a Xavier team that has been easy pickings in the past? We’re diving into the college basketball betting options for the Tuesday tilt between the Musketeers and Wildcats.
Xavier Musketeers vs. Villanova Wildcats
Tuesday, December 21, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Finneran Pavilion
Despite this not being the heyday of Big East basketball in the 1980s, we’re still excited to see the league slate off and running for the 2020-21 campaign and giving us games like this ranked collision between Xavier and Villanova.
The Musketeers could establish themselves as the early team to beat with a road win over a Wildcats team that was listed as the team to beat on the NCAA basketball futures before the season began.
Xavier is up to four spots in the AP to No. 18 and packing a seven-game win streak as the Musketeers arrive in the City of Brotherly Love. Villanova plunged 14 spots to No. 23 after one of its worst weeks in more than 20 years and has struggled against ranked foes this season by losing three of the four matchups.
First Meeting in 22 Months
The venerable – and recently renovated – Pavilion is the site for Tuesday’s tussle, either that or your couch at home with the television tuned to Fox Sports 1. The top-rated sportsbooks are selling Villanova -5½ after opening it at -6, with 137-137½ totals available depending on where one shops.
Suggesting Villanova has dominated the series with Xavier is something of an understatement. The Wildcats stand 30-6 all-time against the Musketeers, have eight of the last nine meetings, and are 14-2 in the rivalry as conference opponents. Villanova and Xavier were twice thwarted by the pandemic last season when the Wildcats went just about a month between games, making this clash the first since February 2020.
Both encounters during the 2019-20 season went to the Wildcats, straight up and against the spread. In the game at Finneran Pavilion, Villanova took the lead five minutes into the game and never gave it up in a 68-62 final that was just enough to cover a 5½-point spread. Each of those games came up short on the totals, and the Wildcats have covered seven of the last nine.
X-Factor: Musketeers 25th in Rebounding
The Musketeers’ hoops program hasn’t missed a beat since Travis Steele took over for Chris Mack a few years ago. Interruptions caused by the pandemic last season finally caught up with Xavier near the end when the Musketeers dropped six of their last eight following an 11-2 start to the truncated schedule, but they’ve certainly exceeded expectations to be this season with an 11-1 record entering Tuesday.
Xavier has also been making friends with those who are following the Musketeers on the college basketball betting odds. They won their Big East opener last Saturday at home with an 80-71 final against Marquette, coming up a little short of the -11 spread to end a 6-game run of spread beaters that contributed heavily to the 9-3 ATS record for the season.
'Nova 10-for-50 from 3-Point Land in Losses to Bears, 'Jays
Things got pretty ugly a couple of weekends ago when Jay Wright and the Wildcats went down to Waco to take on Baylor. Villanova put only 36 points on the scoreboard for the game and only 15 in the first half when the Wildcats resembled more of a D-II team than what was supposed to be the No. 6 team in the nation at the time.
They managed to score more last Friday at Creighton, but in some ways, the 79-59 loss to the Bluejays was just as ugly as the embarrassing performance at Baylor. According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, the two setbacks mark the first time in 22 years that Villanova lost consecutive games by 20+ points.
Let’s be honest; Villanova is still in the rankings based on reputation alone, and one can’t help but wonder if the shooting woes can be fixed quickly or if the problems might snowball. The Wildcats scored just 12 field goals against Baylor and shot a pathetic 28% (33-117) combined against the Bears and Bluejays.
To their credit, the Wildcats haven’t been home much this season with just three of their 11 contests in front of the fans. I’m going to take a flyer with my college basketball pick they have the ‘Wright’ stuff at home tonight.
*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.