This Game could’ve been a top five matchup, but now it’s only top 10 after Xavier fell at Providence over the weekend. Either way, it should be a great Game between two of the best teams in the country. The Wildcats are back at No. 1 and all it took was a home win against Marquette. Playing at home, a lot of money will be on Villanova, especially in this matchup. Even though Xavier has been continually good over the last few years, ‘Nova has dominated this matchup at home, winning all Four Games by at least 13 points. Considering Xavier just fell on the road over the weekend, there’s a decent chance that happens again.
The Musketeers have been good, but they haven’t been overwhelming. The win over Cincinnati was nice and other than that, the only quality win on the Schedule may be the road win at Marquette. This team has a lot of talent, but as seen in that Providence Game, may be hard to trust come March, even after last year’s run.
The way for Xavier to pull the upset in this Game is through Trevon Bluiett and JP MACura. Neither one of those guys played well against the Friars on Saturday, totaling 21 points on just 8-of-24 shooting. For your two best players to perform like that usually isn’t a good sign. The problem is that Villanova can use the length of Mikal Bridges on Bluiett and then Phil Booth on MACura. To go with that, Xavier has to ask Bluiett to step up on the defensive end because Bridges has turned into an offensive force this season averaging almost 18 points per Game on 45 percent from three.
Even worse for the Musketeers is that they don’t have an advantage anywhere else on the cOurt. Jalen Brunson can Scoreon most collegiate players and that will be the case against defense-first Quentin Goodin. Part of Xavier’s downfall may end up being Goodin’s inability to Scoreon the offensive end, being a point guard that can’t shoot from deep.
Kerem Kanter was huge off the bench for the Musketeers last Game, but he has a more difficult matchup in this one with Omari Spellman, who brings size and the ability to shoot from deep. There’s not one area on the cOurt where Xavier has the edge and that’s why most of the money will be on the home team.
The Wildcats haven’t been as good on the defensive end as previous seasons and that’s seen in their last couple Games. They’ve been able to win because they’ve hit 100 points in two of their last three, but this team is still allowing points in bunches and that’ll be how Xavier can steal one. As long as Bluiett and MACura show up for the Musketeers, there will be a chance. They have one of the better effective field goal percentages in the country at 56.9 (21st) and if Nova’s defense continues to struggle, this could be close. But with that being the only thing to bank on, Villanova is the much easier team to back.
Our Pick – Villanova by 8 to 10