Providence (18-14) vs. Villanova (22-9)
NCAA Basketball: Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm (Madison Square Garden)
Line and Odds: Villanova -6 — Over/Under: 134.5
Free NCAA BB Pick Villanova vs. Providence
Fresh off a dominant first round win over Butler, the 8th-seeded Providence Friars look to continue their Big East Tournament run with a matchup against the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats.
Villanova is the defending national champion as well as the defending Big East Tournament champion. Last year, the Wildcats dominated their way to a 36-4 record en route to the NCAA Tournament title. However, this season Villanova has stumbled a bit, dropping games to mid-majors Furman and Penn. Villanova also enters the postseason having lost five of eight games. Still, with a 13-5 conference record the Wildcats did enough to earn the Big East’s top seed. The Wildcats are an excellent defensive team, currently standing at 61st in the nation with 67.1 points allowed per game. Phil Booth leads Villanova on offense with 18.6 PPG, good for fifth in the Big East, while Eric Paschall paces the Wildcats on the glass with 6.1 RPG. Villanova has had Providence’s number this year, earning a sweep of the Friars. Even during Villanova’s recent 3-5 run, the Wildcats knocked off Providence by 18 points. Of note, all five of Villanova’s conference losses came on the road, while the Big East Tournament will be played at the neutral Madison Square Garden. Despite Villanova’s substandard stretch of play towards the end of its season, the simple fact that the Wildcats are coached by Jay Wright means they should be a force to reckon with in the postseason.
Providence enters their matchup with Villanova with a bit more momentum than the Wildcats, having won four of six. Three of those four wins came at the misfortune of the Butler Bulldogs, whom Providence knocked out yesterday in the Big East Tournament first round. Last year the Friars advanced to the Big East Finals before falling to Villanova, and they hope for a similar run this time around despite finishing in a tie for last in the conference standings. Providence’s postseason hopes hinge on the performance of their junior guard Alpha Diallo, who is tied for the Big East lead in rebounding with 8.2 RPG and also contributes 16.1 PPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.5 steals per game (all of which lead Providence). Diallo struggled in Providence’s two games against Villanova, averaging just 10.5 points and 7 rebounds in the losses. For Providence to pull the upset over the Wildcats, Diallo will need to put forth a strong outing. The Friars have struggled at times this year, taking head-scratching losses to UMass, Wichita State and DePaul. But, if they are peaking at the right time, Providence has the potential for an unexpected Big East Tournament run.
Cover the Spread 365 NCAA BB Betting Trends:
- 4-2 ATS in last 6 games
- 1-8 SU in last 9 games against Villanova
- The over is 4-1 in Providence’s last 5 games
- 10-5 ATS in last 15 games
- The under is 7-3 in Villanova’s last 10 games
- The under is 4-2 in Villanova’s last 6 games against Providence
Free NCAA BB Prediction Providence vs. Villanova
An inspired performance from Alpha Diallo could certainly give the Friars the edge. But, Villanova has proven multiple times this season that they know how to shut down Providence’s star. Villanova won by 6 points on the road and 18 at home against Providence, and with the Big East Tournament at a neutral site Villanova -6 seems too low of a spread. Throw in Villanova’s tournament experience, and I have to pick Villanova to win by a solid amount. And while Villanova is elite defensively, the frantic nature of tournament basketball and the very low over/under of 134.5 mean betting the over is the right call here.