Villanova Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers Picks 1/12/22
When: Wednesday, January 12, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati
Point Spread: NOVA -1.5/XAV +1.5 (MyBookie - Get a 100% bonus up to $300 when you use bonus code PREDICT100)
Moneyline: NOVA -135/XAV +110
Last Time Out:
Villanova handled DePaul 79-64; Xavier routed Butler 87-72.
About the Matchup:
So far, this matchup has been one-way traffic ever since Xavier joined the Big East back in 2013. The Musketeers have more than proven they belong at this level by competing for league titles and regularly earning high seeds in the NCAA tournament, but Villanova has been the one mountain that Xavier hasn’t found a way to scale. Since this became a Big East matchup, Xavier is 2-15 all-time against the Wildcats and found a way to get blasted again three weeks ago in Philadelphia, despite leading by eight at the break.
The good news is that the Musketeers have tended to play pretty well in Cincinnati, and Villanova isn’t a great road team this season. But with the Wildcats sitting tied for first with Providence (and the Friars appearing to be nowhere near as good as their record suggests), Villanova remains the king of the Big East until someone takes their title away from them. So far, Xavier hasn’t shown it can get that done.
Scouting the Wildcats:
The last time the teams played, Villanova played a poor first half before taking away the 3-pointer and forcing Xavier to find shots where they could. The Musketeers couldn’t solve the Villanova defense, scoring just 20 points in the second half and going 0-for-14 from the perimeter.
Part of the reason that Villanova was able to defend the Musketeers so well on the perimeter was that it was a lot like facing themselves, as Villanova is also a 3-point heavy team that doesn’t do well inside the arc. Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore are the unquestioned scoring leaders, but nobody on the Wildcats shoots better than 50 percent for the season. However, the Wildcats get away with it because they play excellent defense, don’t turn the ball over, and take enough shots that eventually something has to go down. It’s a risky way to play, but it works for this squad.
Scouting the Musketeers:
Xavier doesn’t have any one standout, but the Musketeers can shoot pretty well and tend to get a fair amount of rebounds, a must when facing Villanova. Because the Wildcats never have a lot of height, one of the best ways to handle them is to try to win the battle on the glass if you can pull it off. Xavier couldn’t last time out; the Musketeers were only able to outrebound Villanova by one and couldn’t get enough second-chance points to offset their problems behind the arc.
If Xavier is going to pull off a win, Zach Freemantle has to get more aggressive inside, and Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson have to shoot better. Xavier only got three baskets from its starting forwards, and five rebounds total from Freemantle and Jerome Hunter. That simply can’t happen if Xavier is going to get second chances. Making matters worse, the Musketeers only shot 13 foul shots, a sure sign that they weren’t aggressive enough. Shots aren’t going to come easily against Villanova’s defense, so Xavier either has to get better on its accuracy or get second chances.
Villanova will Cover If: The Wildcats can frustrate the Musketeers’ shooters again and force Xavier to find their shots inside the arc. The Musketeers didn’t take good shots in the game in Philadelphia, and if they have to force the issue again, it’s not likely to work out well for Xavier.
Xavier will Cover If: The Musketeers can either get good looks at the basket or get second chances. Whenever you play Villanova, you have to count on not getting anywhere near as many shots as you usually do because the Wildcats are deliberate and play defense very well. Xavier needs to change the equation by getting offensive rebounds and getting more possessions.
Dan’s Best Prop Bets
With these teams playing rather slowly and having just played a game that hit 129 points, a high-scoring showing isn’t likely to be the case here. Points are always possible if the shots are falling, but more likely, this game will be somewhere in the 130s again.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
With the spread being as low as it is, you’re essentially backing the money line by backing the dog, and given Xavier’s awful history against Villanova and the fact that the Wildcats took over the game in the second half, I don’t want to trust the Musketeers here. Villanova is the stronger defensive team, and if it’s an under game, I want the better defense.
I’m going to take the Wildcats in this spot. Bet your college hoops picks for FREE this week by taking advantage of a 100% REAL CASH bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $1000 at Betnow Sportsbook!
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