West Virginia Mountaineers (23-6 SU, 12-16 ATS) vs. Villanova Wildcats (24-5 SU, 18-10 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, March 6, 2010, Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pa. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: West Virginia +3/Villanova -3
When the Villanova Wildcats started the season with a 20-1 overall record and 9-0 in the Big East, everyone knew the Cats hadn’t yet faced the toughest part of their schedule. With their schedule truly back-loaded, they had to face the likes of Georgetown, West Virginia, UConn, Pitt and Syracuse in the final month of the regular season. A 4-4 record in their last eight games isn’t even that bad for the Wildcats given their brutal stretch of games. But they have one tough game left to end the regular season, and it’s against the West Virginia Mountaineers early Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center.
During that eight-game stretch, the Wildcats won at West Virginia and Cincinnati, won at home against Providence and South Florida, and lost to Georgetown, UConn, Pitt and Syracuse, three of which were on the road. But the Wildcats are now looking to finish the regular season strong and secure the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament with a victory over West Virginia.
West Virginia, meanwhile, has won two games in a row and four of its last five. The Mountaineers have won five of their last seven road games, and one of those two losses was in triple overtime at Pitt. After a 74-68 home comeback victory over Cincinnati last Saturday, the Mountaineers won at home over Georgetown on Monday, 81-68. On senior night, senior Da’Sean Butler led the way with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists. Devin Ebanks scored 15 points, Kevin Jones scored 14, and Darryl Bryant chipped in with 11. The Mountaineers only shot 43 percent from the field and 6-for-21 on 3-pointers, and they allowed Georgetown to shoot 49 percent from the field and 6-for-16 on 3-pointers, but the Mountaineers forced 20 turnovers while only committing 10 of them and they got to the free throw line 34 times (made 27 of them).
Villanova is coming off a 77-73 road victory at Cincinnati on Tuesday. The game was tight throughout until the Wildcats pulled away midway through the second half. But the Bearcats went on a run and made it a close game in the final minutes, before Nova made some clutch free throws and held on for the hard-fought victory. Six different Nova players scored in double figures, led by Scottie Reynolds, who scored 17 points but was scoreless at the half and had only attempted one field goal. Corey Stokes scored 14 points, Reggie Redding had 11 points, and Corey Fisher, Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou each scored 10. The Wildcats shot 48 percent from the field and 10-for-21 from 3-point range. They also got to the free throw line 35 times (made 25 of them). Cincinnati shot 39 percent from the field and 7-for-30 on 3-pointers.
Last time these teams met, Villanova won at West Virginia on February 8, 82-75. Reynolds led the way with 21 points for the Wildcats, while Fished had 17 points and Pena scored 10. Five different WVU players scored in double figures, led by Bryant’s 15 points. The ‘Cats shot an incredible 57 percent from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range while holding the Mountaineers to 41 percent shooting from the field and a miserable 7-for-27 on 3-pointers. Nova turned the ball over 18 times but also held a 10-rebound advantage on the boards. One big difference was in free throw shooting, where Nova shot 19-for-22 and WVU missed 14 of it’s 32 attempts.
Both of these teams play hard defensively but also have their advantages offensively. Nova has the super quick guards that can penetrate and dish to create open shots, while WVU has the long, athletic forwards that can use their athleticism and versatility to dominate in the paint. Last time these teams met, the Mountaineers shot horribly from 3-point range and the free throw line, while the Wildcats shot great from the field and the free throw line. Still, the ‘Cats only won by seven points. Both teams are going to get their offensive opportunities if they play hard, but it’s just a matter of knocking down shots.
Villanova is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 home games, 11-5 ATS in its last 16 games following an ATS win, and 1-4 ATS in its last five Saturday games. The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams at Villanova and 8-3 in the last 11 meetings overall.
Ryno’s Pick: Villanova has already beaten WVU on the road. What would make anybody think they won’t replicate the feat on their own home court? Look for Villanova to win by 7 or more and to cover the spread.