Ranked teams go at it when the #14 Villanova Wildcats (11-4, 4-1 Big East) clash with the #17 Xavier Musketeers (12-2, 2-1 Big East) in a mid-week Big East Conference tilt. Villanova throttled DePaul, 79-64 on Saturday, and Xavier took care of business against Butler on Friday, 87-72.
Tipoff for Wednesday’s showdown is at 6:30 p.m. EST inside the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, OH. According to the oddsmaker, Villanova is a 1.5-point road favorite over the hosts, and the over-under total is 140.5 points.
What to Know – Villanova Wildcats
The Wildcats carry a four-game conference winning streak into the clash, including a 71-58 victory over Xavier before the holidays. Villanova is tied atop the Big East standings with Providence.
Villanova pours in 73.1 points per game behind 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent shooting from the arc. On defense, the Wildcats hold opponents to 61.6 points, 40.9 percent shooting from the floor, and 30.6 percent from three.
Collin Gillespie scored a season-high 28 points to help the Wildcats to a 15-point rout of the Blue Demons. Justin Moore chipped in 21 points for Villanova. Villanova went into the break trailing 37-32 before turning up the defense in the second half and holding DePaul to 6-of-24 shooting.
Villanova is 9-6 against the spread with a 4-1 mark over their last five games. The Wildcats own a 14-3 record ATS against Xavier in their last 17 meetings.
What to Know – Xavier Musketeers
Xavier sits just a game back of the conference leaders and can make a jump Wednesday night with a victory. The Musketeers have not beaten the Wildcats on the road since joining the Big East in 2013.
The Musketeers score 76.4 points per game and average 45.8 percent shooting from the floor and 34.7 percent from the 3-point line. Villanova’s defense surrenders 62.7 points, 39.4 percent shooting from the field, and 30.3 percent from deep.
Xavier knocked off Butler on the road Friday night, playing their first game in 17 days. The Wildcats shot 55.1 percent in the game and nailed 10-of-22 shots from beyond the arc. Adam Kunkel came off the bench to score a season-high 25 points, backed by 4-of-8 shooting from three.
The Musketeers own a 10-4 record ATS and a 7-2 mark on their home floor. Xavier is 2-5 ATS over their previous seven games when facing Villanova at home.
The Pick is In
Villanova had no troubles against the Musketeers in their first matchup and hasn’t slowed down since. Wednesday’s bout is a critical game in the Big East race and essential for Xavier to try and even the season series.
The Wildcats used a balanced attack in the first meeting to down the Musketeers, and Xavier will need to do better defensively to disrupt the flow of Villanova’s efficient offense. The Cintas Center should be a packed house for this crucial contest, but the Wildcats are too talented and will overcome a slow start for the victory.
Betting Pick: Villanova Wildcats -1.5