No. 13 Villanova Wildcats (20-4) at West Virginia Mountaineers (16-8)
WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, W.V., 9:00PM Eastern, Friday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The no. 13 Villanova Wildcats have been on an impressive streak as of late in the elite Conference of the Big East winning their last 6 games including big wins over Syracuse and Marquette. The Wildcats will likely have a chance to jump into the Top 10 next week if they can get a win on the road in Morgantown against West Virginia on Friday night considering how many of the top teams in America have fallen this past week. The Mountaineers started the season fairly well but have lost 4 of their last 6 and 6 of their last 9 heading into the contest with Villanova. However, the Mountaineers sports a healthy 9-2 record at home this season and they will attempt to capture a solid victory over Villanova on Friday.
Villanova has posted a solid 77 points per game this season in the high scoring conference that is the Big East, but their defensive efficiency has been the most impressive aspect of the team. The Wildcats rank in the top 25 across the country holding teams to a low 38% from the field. Villanova will get a chance to sport their defensive play against the Mountaineers who drag up the bottom half of the country shooting a mere 44% as a team from the floor. The Mountaineers have won the last 3 out of 4 and will likely be tough to beat on the road this Friday night, but Villanova will be up to the challenge in an always exciting Big East showdown.
West Virginia is averaging 72 points per game this season. While those numbers sound pretty solid, the Mountaineers actually rank in the bottom half of the conference in scoring. However, West Virginia plays extremely well at home and they will look to score a nice win when the host Villanova on Friday night. West Virginia is in desperate need for some wins as they still have aspirations to make the NCAA Tournament. Their 16-8 record is not too impressive, but they have a reasonable stretch of games in the next few weeks to close out the season that they could really take advantage of if they could turn it up a notch.
Vegas has opened the betting line favoring the unranked home team by 3.5 points to take down the no. 13 Villanova Wildcats. The game total for the contest has been set at the 141.5 mark for tomorrow night as well.
West Virginia junior forward DaSean Butler has been the primary standout for the Mountaineers this season with 17.3 points per game and also 6 boards per contest as well. However, Butler was held to a season low 4 points at Pittsburgh on Monday night and he must get back in rhythm for West Virginia to be effective on Friday night. If Butler can not get the job done, senior guard Alex Ruoff will definitely have to get the job done. Ruoff one of the big leaders of the team is averaging 16 points per game and the Mountaineers expect nothing less than another solid night of basketball from their senior.
Dante Cunningham leads the Villanova Wildcats scoring attack with 17 points every outing. Cunningham also leads a sound Villanova rebounding team with 7 boards per contest as well. Guards Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher aid a strong supporting cause as both are averaging double figures and their stellar guard play could really give the West Virginia defensive schemes a hard time. Villanova will have to play hard as slight underdogs to earn their 7 straight win and perhaps a trip inside the top 10 ranking in next weeks polls.
The Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games on the road and also reached the over total in 5 of their last 7 as well. West Virginia has split their last 10 games at home with a 5-5 ATS mark. However, the Mountaineers have beaten the Wildcats ATS in 5 of the last 8 games.
Jay Pick: As you saw in last night’s Louisville/Notre Dame game, a home court can be just what a lesser team needs to knock off a powerhouse. Take West Virginia -3.5.