Betting Villanova-Seton Hall, Plus Three Other Major Conference Matchups
Eric Hartline USA Today
Today, I’ll focus on the following four power conference matchups, highlighted by Villanova trying to avoid its first losing streak in over five years.
- Villanova at Seton Hall +6
- Texas A&M at Georgia -1
- Florida State at Clemson -4
- Butler at St. John’s +2.5
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Villanova at Seton Hall (+6)
8:30 p.m ET
When these two first met in Philly, I said Seton Hall had a decent chance at an upset because of its ability to score at the rim, where Omari Spellman has issues defensively. Hall’s star big man Angel Delgado did indeed have an excellent game, scoring 18 points on 9-15 shooting. However, he couldn’t guard Spellman in pick and pop situations, as the frosh center connected on 6 of 7 from deep. With Mikal Bridges on the floor for Nova, Kevin Willard can’t afford to switch his best overall defender in long armed Ish Sanogo onto Spellman. While I don’t expect Spellman to have another career shooting game, Nova can still exploit Delgado’s utterly lacking ball screen defense.
The Pirates actually led in the second half of the first meeting, but faded down the stretch under the barrage of Spellman triples. SHU’s season went into a brief tailspin after that loss, as that loss triggered the start of a four game losing streak. SHU has since rallied to win three straight, but Villanova is healthy this time around, with Phil Booth available. Booth is another lethal scoring option that SHU’s leaky perimeter defense has to game plan for. SHU’s defense has looked better during its current 3-game winning streak, but that was against three of the four least efficient offenses in the league. It still didn’t hold DePaul, Providence, or St. John’s to under 1 point per possession (ppp).
Led by the best point guard in the country in Jalen Brunson, Nova’s offense is operating on a different plane than the rest of the country. Just watch for Brunson’s post ups. Believe it or not, the Nova PG is actually the best fundamental post player I’ve seen this year. The Wildcats are also likely to be a little angry after an OT loss at Creighton. Villanova hasn’t lost back to back games in a little over five calendar years. Truly remarkable.
Desi Rodriguez will likely play for Seton Hall, but at less than 100%. I think Hall keeps this contest within one or two possessions for 40 minutes, but the Cats ultimately find a way to keep their non-losing streak streak alive.
PICK: Seton Hall +6
Texas A&M at Georgia (-1)
8:30 p.m. ET
Mark Fox’s teams have a propensity to completely fold during the heart of the SEC season, and then finish strong when the possibility of an at-large is off the table. Georgia has finished 3-1 in its final four SEC games for four years running. And after watching the Bulldogs against LSU, it’s clear they’re playing much looser offensively.
Perhaps they’re playing for Fox to keep his job. The tea leaves suggest he’s on his way out, with 5 star point guard Ashton Hagans decommitting from UGA over the weekend. Fox also went on the offensive to plead his case to keep his job, as he was probably the most outspoken coach regarding the current FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting. He cited his program as an example of “someone who does things the right way”.
Regardless, UGA is coming off its second most efficient game of the SEC season, scoring 93 points in 82 possessions against LSU. The Dawgs ran far more iso than I’ve seen from them all year, especially for big man Yante Maten, who dominated LSU facing the rim all game.
Defensively, UGA dominates the post between Maten and Derek Ogbeide. The Dawgs have allowed just .684 ppp, per Synergy. That is key against an Aggies squad that frequently features dual post sets between Robert Williams and Tyler Davis. A&M pulled out a win in College Station last year when Williams got Ogbeide in early foul trouble.
Of course A&M’s own post defense has been outstanding this year as well. But as I previouosly mentioned, I’ve rarely seen Fox allow Maten so much freedom outside of the paint. If he does so again, Maten will eat up Williams or Davis, as neither can guard him in perimeter iso.
PICK: Georgia -1
Florida State at Clemson (-4)
9 p.m. ET
Typically, FSU’s length and athleticism 1-5 has given Clemson an insurmountable amount of trouble. This is especially true since Brad Brownell shifted from a motion offense to pick and roll heavy sets in recent years. The Noles switch on everything with their versatile length, and are annually one of the nation’s best pick and roll defenses.
In the first meeting, FSU pulled out an OT win in Tallahassee after Clemson blew an 18-point second half lead. The massive FSU perimeter of Braian Angola and Terance Mann harangued the smaller Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell, and Gabe DeVoe into 13 turnovers. Clemson grades out in just the 30% percentile nationally in press offense efficiency, per Synergy. Expect even more full court pressure from FSU tonight.
Defensively, the Tigers will certainly compete. Clemson is proficient in both transition defense and pick and roll defense, both of which are absolutely necessary against FSU.
With FSU coming off a miserable defensive performance at NC State and Clemson’s ability to defend the Noles’ strengths, this one should be another tight defensive battle. Taking the points looks to be the best route.
PICK: Florida State +4
Butler at St. John’s (+2.5)
9 p.m. ET
SJU didn’t match up well with Butler in any aspect in a 25-point blowout loss at Hinkle earlier this season. The Red Storm have of course been a different team since, beating Duke and Villanova in consecutive games. But after playing with a six man rotation for nearly a month now, the Johnnies look gassed.
St. John’s simply doesn’t have an answer for Kelan Martin at the 4. Neither Bashir Ahmed nor Marvin Clark can switch out on Martin on the perimeter. Martin routinely backed both down in the first meeting, forcing the defense to collapse. He then would simply kick out to wide open Butler shooters.
More importantly, Butler has several options to slow down Shamorie Ponds, without forcing Kamar Baldwin to guard him for 40 minutes. Butler frustrated the Johnnies’ uber scorer by throwing the longer Aaron Thompson and Henry Baddley on him. Thompson played Ponds aggressively on the perimeter, forcing him into three turnovers. And Baddley sagged off of him, forcing him into jump shots. Ponds went 0-12 from the field en route to by far the worst offensive game of his college career.
While Ponds will come out looking for revenge, the Johnnies’ ability to win this game likely hinges on Clark exploiting the slow footed Martin on the offensive end. However, Butler ultimately just has too many advantages on both sides of the ball.
PICK: Butler -2.5