Villanova Wildcats vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Villanova Wildcats (20-2 SU, 15-6 ATS) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (19-3 SU, 9-12 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Monday, February 8, 2010, WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, W.V. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Villanova +5/West Virginia -5
Over/Under: 150

Big Monday in the Big East doesn’t get any bigger than this. The winner between Monday’s matchup between the Villanova Wildcats and West Virginia Mountaineers will have the inside track on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and the best chance of challenging Syracuse for the Big East title.

Villanova is currently 20-2 overall and 9-1 in the Big East, while West Villanova is 19-3 overall and 8-2 in the Big East. Villanova lost its first conference game at Georgetown on Saturday after winning 11 games in a row. The only other loss this season for the Wildcats came at Temple on December 13. West Virginia’s conference losses have come by one point to Syracuse and by two points to Notre Dame, while its only other loss was at Purdue. The Mountaineers have won six games in a row and are headed in the right direction.

West Virginia’s last game was a 79-60 win at St. John’s on Saturday. The Mountaineers were down 33-22 at the half but had the ultimate turn-around by outscoring St. John’s 57-27 in the second half for a 19-point victory. Da’Sean Butler was 7-for-7 on 3-pointers and scored a game-high 33 points. He also had six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. Kevin Jones had 13 points and seven rebounds, Devin Ebanks had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Wellington Smith scored 10 points. The Mountaineers shot 46 percent from the field and 10-for-15 from 3-point range. They held a nine rebound advantage on the glass and held St. John’s to 40 percent shooting from the field, 5-for-17 on 3-pointers, and only eight free throw attempts. If the Mountaineers can shoot that well from beyond the arc against Villanova and keep the ‘Cats off the free throw line like they did against St. John’s, they will have no problem winning this game.

Villanova is coming off a 103-90 loss at Georgetown on Saturday. The ‘Cats got down by 19 points at the half and had to try to battle back throughout the second half. They shot 46 percent from the field and 9-for-28 on 3-pointers and forced Georgetown into 20 turnovers. But they allowed the Hoyas to shoot 56 percent from the field and 10-for-19 on 3-pointers. Most ridiculously, the Hoyas were 39-for-50 at the free throw line, while Nova made 17-of-23 free throws. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher each led Nova with 24 points. Corey Stokes was the only other Nova player to score in double figures with 10 points.

In Big East play, Villanova is shooting 48.5 percent from the field while West Virginia is shooting 43.5 percent. Both teams are holding opponents to just under 42 percent shooting from the field. Both teams are shooting very well on 3-pointers, with Villanova at 38.6 percent and West Virginia at 37.9 percent. Nova is holding opponents to 34 percent on 3-pointers, while WVU’s opponents are shooting 31.7 percent from beyond the arc. Villanova is +5.4 on the boards while West Virginia is +7.1. Villanova is about even in turnover margin (14.4 forced, 14.1 committed). West Virginia is forcing 13.1 turnovers per game and committing 10.6 per game.

This game is the perfect matchup for West Virginia. Villanova doesn’t have much in terms of big men, as Antonio Pena, Maurice Sutton and Mouphtaou Yarou aren’t serious low post threats. Often times, small forwards Taylor King, Isaiah Armwood and Stokes fill in as the power forward. Similarly, West Virginia doesn’t have much as far as low post players. Deniz Kilicli, who recently became eligible, is the only true big man for the Mountaineers. But Butler, Ebanks and Jones can all play any frontcourt position. The Mountaineers are very long and may be able to disrupt Reynolds and Fisher, the key players for the ‘Cats who also happen to be smaller than the players who will usually be guarding them. If the Mountaineers can disrupt Nova’s outside shots, stop the Nova guards from driving into the paint for easy baskets, and get the ball in the post to Butler, Ebanks and Jones, they should be able to control this game on their home court. On the other side, Nova will look to attack the basket and get to the free throw line and also hit some outside shots.

Villanova is 5-1 ATS in its last six road games, 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games overall, and 8-3 ATS in its last 11 Big East games. West Virginia is 1-4 ATS in its last five games following an ATS win. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams. Villanova is 1-4 ATS in its last five games against the Mountaineers and also 1-4 ATS in its last five games at West Virginia. The over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings between these teams.

Ryno’s Pick: West Virginia is a super strong play to cover the spread here.