Providence Friars vs. Villanova Wildcats Preview and Pick

Providence Friars (18-11) +10.5 at No. 11 Villanova Wildcats (26-5) -10.5
The Pavilion, Villanova, P.A., 7:00PM Eastern, Thursday

By Jay Horne of

The No. 11 ranked Villanova Wildcats has been one of the most solid teams in the Big East during the 2nd half of the season. Villanova has handled the brutal schedule of the conference bout as well as any team could. The Wildcats have won 10 of their last 12 games while moving their way up the rankings and will cap off their season when they host the Providence Friars on Thursday night. Providence is one of the teams on the bubble as far as the NCAA selection committee is concerned and they could really cement their birth into the big dance with a win on Thursday.

The Wildcats rank about right in the middle of the road on both sides of the ball in the Big East. Villanova has averaged 76 points per game on the offensive side of the ball while holding teams to 66 points on the defensive side of the ball. Villanova has knocked down 46% of their shots as a team this season, and they may have to put some points on the board against a Providence team that can post some high point totals. Villanova is fresh off a big win over Notre Dame on Monday night 77-60 and they will try to end the year on a strong note against Providence.

The Providence Friars have most likely the softest spoken team in the wild and crazy conference that is the Big East. Despite only sporting a 10-7 record in the brutal conference, the Friars still have a chance to be around in March. Providence has been a streaky team on the winning and losing side this season. Providence has won 4, lost 2, won 3, lost 3, won 2, lost 2, and won 2 in their last 18 games. Providence evidently is a momentum type team that will attempt to close out the season with 3 straight wins and appears to have a very good shot at the NCAA Tournament.

The opening line has the no. 11 Villanova Wildcats favored at 10.5 points over the Providence Friars. The over/under total for the game is posted at a high 159.5 points due to both teams dynamic offenses.

Providence sports one of the quickest starting lineups in America. The Friars have 4 different players averaging at least 10 points or more this season. Senior guard Weyinmi Efejuku leads the team averaging 14.9 points per game this season. Marshon Brooks and Sharaud Curry both give a strong supporting effort posting 11 points per game this season as well. One of the downsides to the quick offense is that Providence is an undersized team which has led to them allowing 36 rebounds per game this season. If the Friars can keep the Wildcats from dominating the boards, their strong shooting and explosiveness could be enough to score an upset.

Villanova is led by the play of senior forward Dante Cunningham. Cunningham is leading the team with 16 points and 7 rebounds per game this season. Cunningham is coming off a solid performance where he tallied in 18 points and pulled down 8 boards in Monday nights win over Notre Dame. Junior guard Scottie Reynolds has been equally affective for the Wildcats averaging 15 points per game this season. Reynolds also had a big night in the win against Notre Dame scoring 23 points and Villanova will look for both of these players to have another strong night to cap off the season for the Wildcats.

Betting Trends…
Villanova has won 7 of the last 10 games against Providence. However, the Friars are 7-3 ATS in that 10 game stretch while the over total has been reached in 6 of the last 7 games between the two teams.

Jays Pick – Under 159.5.