Saint Joseph’s vs Villanova Odds, Pick for Wednesday
Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Billy Lange (Saint Joe’s)
Saint Joseph's vs Villanova Odds, Pick
Below, we have Saint Joseph's vs Villanova odds and a pick for Wednesday.
Saint Joe's and Villanova will renew their local "Holy War" rivalry on Wednesday as a part of the historic Big 5 basketball in Philadelphia.
Villanova already lost to Penn in the Big 5 Classic in a stunning upset at The Palestra on Nov. 13, but the Wildcats have turned their season around since then. Villanova torched Maryland at home before winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, which included three wins in three days against top-50 opponents Texas Tech, North Carolina and Memphis.
Villanova is into the top 15 in the country in KenPom ratings, and it's reached its season-long peak. Few teams in the entire country have seen a higher Adjusted Efficiency boost than the Wildcats in year two under Kyle Neptune.
Meanwhile, Saint Joe's is a high-variance offense that shoots as many 3s as any team in the country, and that can lead to a very high-variance approach. The Hawks lost to Texas A&M-Commerce at home as 19-point favorites, but then nearly won at Rupp Arena.
The market has cooled a bit on Saint Joe's since it was projected as one of the most improved teams in the country.
Given the local rivalry and the matchup, Saint Joe's is in an all-in, buy-low spot on Wednesday against a somewhat inflated Villanova.
Saint Joe's has the highest Rim & 3 Rate in the entire country, and the Hawks have three volume shooters making at least 38% from beyond the arc this season.
It's easy to see why the Hawks were projected to take a sizable leap in year five under long-time NBA assistant Billy Lange. They were one of the younger teams in all of college basketball last year, returned nearly all of their minutes (15th in returning production) and added local freshman Xzayvier Brown to the fold as another shooting option to better space the floor.
We've seen the good of the Hawks — 15-of-37 from 3 in a 96-88 OT loss to Kentucky — and the bad — 6-of-30 from 3 in a 57-54 loss to A&M-Commerce.
One plus for Saint Joe's in this matchup is that Villanova won't look to run in transition off of long rebounds from missed 3s. Saint Joe's is a well below-average defense in transition this year, but the Hawks' half-court defensive numbers are quite solid.
Some of that is down to the strength of schedule – Saint Joe's is 22nd in 2-point defense, but has faced one of the worst schedules in D-I hoops thus far. Three of its first six opponents were outside the top 300 in KenPom and the other two were Penn and Sacred Heart.
Villanova's defense still has a lot of the Jay Wright principles that made the unit extremely switchable. The athleticism and perimeter defensive ability of big man Eric Dixon enables Villanova to better guard offenses that want to spread the floor and shoot a lot of 3s.
It's very difficult to beat the Villanova defense off the dribble, and the Cats are going to allow a lot of 3s and try to take away the rim. Villanova is 348th in 3-point attempt rate allowed and top-10 in the country at preventing access to its own rim defensively.
The Wildcats were known in the past for excellent point guard play and ball movement, but what separates this Villanova team from past years is its ability to create in isolation off the dribble. ShotQuality grades the Wildcats as the seventh-best isolation offense in the entire country thus far.
Villanova isn't quite as slow this year offensively compared to past years, but that has more to do with playing a couple of very up-tempo teams in North Carolina and Memphis in the last two games.
Saint Joe's transition defense is outside the top 200, but the half-court defense is 22nd in the country (Shot Quality) thus far.
I'd expect Villanova to play slower here. That could potentially keep Saint Joe's in the game as a huge underdog.
Villanova has recently dominated this rivalry with victories by 12, 20 and 29 in Wright's final three years. The Hawks were highly competitive last season in a seven-point loss, and this is the smallest gap in talent between the two rosters since Lange became head coach.
As much as Villanova's rim defense has been excellent thus far in 2023, the 3-point defense ranks outside the top-100 nationally, per Shot Quality.
The Wildcats rank outside the top 100 in 3-point field goal percentage in both actual and expected shot results based on the shot quality attempted. The Wildcats could get hot from 3 and run away with this, but both teams could have an average shooting night.
This spread could be inflated by a couple of points based on Nova's dominant run in Feast Week on neutral courts in the Caribbean.
This is one of the highest-variance games on the board on Wednesday because of the sheer number of 3s that will be attempted and allowed, so any bet on Saint Joe's spread should be accompanied by a small sprinkle bet on the first-half and full-game moneyline.
Pick: Saint Joe's +15 or Better | Sprinkle 1H ML & Full Game ML (+860)
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