It is a huge game in the Big East as the #3 Villanova Wildcats (23-3 Overall, 10-3 Big East) play the #4 Xavier Musketeers (24-3 Overall, 12-2 Big East) at 4:30 p.m. E.T. today, Saturday, February 17. The game will be played at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Xavier is on top of the Big East, while the Wildcats are 1.5 games behind. Our Villanova plays Xavier 2018 NCAA basketball Big 12 East has the Wildcats at -2.0 and the over/under between 164.0 and 165.0
When these two teams met on Jan. 10, the Wildcats beat the #10 Musketeers easily 89-65. That was just about the time that Villanova went on a nine-game winning streak. But the Cats have struggled in the past two weeks, losing to St. John’s 79-75 on Feb. 7 and Providence 76-71 on Feb. 14. Sandwiched in between those two losses was an 86-57 win over Butler. The last time the Musketeers lost was that Jan. 10 game against Villanova. They have since won nine straight, including beating two top 25 clubs. Their last win was 102-90 against Seton Hall on Feb. 14.
Overall statistically, the Wildcats are a bit better than the Musketeers. But those differences are fairly negligible. As an example, Villanova is a 40% three-point shooting team, while Xavier is at 38%. Both are around 77% from the free throw line. The Cats are putting in 87.2 PPG, while the Musketeers are good for 85.3. Villanova is holding teams to 70.6 PPG and Xavier is keeping them at 74.6. Both teams are hitting 50% from the floor and dishing off about 17 assists per game. Xavier is taking down 38.4 RPG, while the Wildcats are grabbing 35.4.
Players to Watch
Villanova is led by three guards, juniors Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges and sophomore Donte DiVincenzo. Each has solid shooting, assist, and rebounding chops with Brunson leading in scoring and assists, averaging 19.8 PPG and 4.7 APG. He’s also good on 44% of his threes. Freshman forward Omari Spellman anchors the paint, grabbing 7.7 RPG and averaging just over 10 points per contest.
Three seniors form a powerful triad of scorers for the Musketeers. Guards Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura are tops in points per game with 19.6 and 12.3 respectively. Bluiet is bringing down 5.7 RPG, while Macura is taking in 4.3. Third in this group is forward Kerem Kanter. A 56% shooter, he’s averaging 10.4 PPG and 5.0 RPG. Sophomore guard Quentin Goodin leads the club in assists with 5.0 per game. There’s a lot of fine bench talent on this team too.
Our Villanova Plays Xavier 2018 NCAA Basketball Big East Pick
These two teams are evenly matched. With Nova dealing with recent inconsistent play and the Musketeers at home and as hot as a team can get, you’ve got to expect a close game. We think that the Cats will find consistency today. That means our Villanova plays Xavier 2018 NCAA basketball Big 12 East picks is the Wildcats at -2.0. We see this game as going under 165.0.