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Villanova vs Boston College Odds & Picks: Bet Cats in Low-Scoring Game

Villanova vs Boston College Odds & Picks: Bet Cats in Low-Scoring Game article feature image
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Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Villanova Wildcats

Villanova vs. Boston College Odds

Saturday, Dec. 10
5 p.m. ET
FOX
Villanova Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-9
-110
129.5
-110o / -110u
-450
Boston College Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+9
-110
129.5
-110o / -110u
+340
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Never Forget Tribute Classic has become an underrated spot on the college basketball calendar. The now annual event welcomes teams to Newark, New Jersey to raise funds for the families of those lost on September 11, 2001.

For the first time this year, the event is just one game — rather than a doubleheader — but features two schools that, in theory, should draw a hot crowd to the Prudential Center.

Former Big East foes Villanova and Boston College make for an interesting pairing, each with plenty of alumni and potential recruits from the New York-New Jersey area.

Villanova enters the event stumbling through its worst start to a season in a decade, while Boston College’s basketball program continues to work itself through the weeds.

This game could be a key indicator of just how troublesome things have gotten for the Wildcats, or they could show they are on their way back to stable ground.


Villanova Wildcats

New Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune probably expected a few speed bumps and curveballs when he took over for the legendary Jay Wright this offseason.

Replacing the best coach in school history is never easy, even with the succession plan from Wright to Neptune going off without a hitch.

He likely didn’t expect Villanova’s worst start of the 21st century, with the Wildcat fanbase already getting antsy with him so soon.

Villanova is under .500 for the first time at any point since the disastrous 2012 season, and even that year, the Cats started 7-6 before collapsing in conference play. This season is the first time Villanova suffered its fifth loss before December 1 since at least 1980.

To the unpolished observer, you might think the choice to replace Wright was a poor one, with CBS doing Neptune no favors having Wright broadcast the Wildcats last game, complete with a postgame interview of his successor on the court.

But that idea would ignore some key points.

Neptune has been without Villanova’s two best players due to injury.

Justin Moore ended last season by tearing his Achilles tendon, sidelining him until at least halfway through this season. If he plays up to the standard he’s set in prior seasons on the Main Line, Moore is the best guard in the Big East and the primary scorer for the Villanova offense.

That’s asking a lot off an Achilles tear, though any contribution from Moore would go a long way.

That’s especially true when factoring in freshman phenom Cam Whitmore, who missed Villanova’s first seven games. He returned in the Wildcats’ win over Oklahoma and added a breakout performance in their win over Penn, totaling 21 points, six rebounds and two assists.

Whitmore, a projected one-and-done lottery pick, makes the Wildcats’ offense more logically constructed. The other players in the rotation — especially those on the perimeter — can score within their means, but are not expected to be “bucket-getters” in crunch time or as the shot clock dwindles.

Whitmore sliding into the lineup opens up other players to take on more fitting roles and should help this Villanova team return to form, if not among the contenders in the Big East, at least in the NCAA tournament conversation.

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Boston College Eagles

This is probably the best place to tell you that I am writing this as a Boston College alum. If you think that means I might be biased towards the Eagles, well then you haven’t been following BC’s athletics programs for the last decade.

After BC joined the ACC for the 2005-06 season, it made the NCAA tournament in its first, second and fourth seasons in the conference.

In the 13 years since the Eagles’ last NCAA bid (coincidentally, the 13 seasons since I stepped on campus as a freshman), BC has never made the NCAA tournament, has only posted two records over .500 and has six seasons with four or fewer wins in conference play.

Earl Grant was hired prior to last season. He’s another promoted mid-major coach (with limited success in his previous gig at Charleston to begin with) who is expecting to try to resurrect a program that had five different seasons with at least one week in the top 15 of the AP poll earlier this century.

The early returns on the Grant hire are not promising. Last season, the Eagles were 6-14 in ACC play and lost games to Pitt (KenPom No. 195), Albany (KenPom No. 286) and Rhode Island (twice in one week, somehow).

This year, BC has lost to Tarleton State, Maine and New Hampshire, plus the Eagles needed last-minute buckets to secure home wins over Cornell and Detroit Mercy.

The biggest issues are on the offensive end, where BC is stagnant and tepid. BC is shooting 3-pointers at one of the lowest rates in the nation (336th), which is almost a good thing because it’s making 3-pointers at an even worse rate (26.8%, 349th nationally).

The Eagles are bottom-10 in the nation in assist rate and are forced to do all of their damage on contested 2-pointers. That’s a hellish way to live in 2022.


Villanova vs. Boston College Betting Pick

That Boston College pessimism is clearly going to be a factor in my pick here, but let’s start with the total.

BC’s offense has been dismal so far this season, scoring more than 101 points per 100 possessions just twice in 10 tries. In BC’s best wins, the Eagles failed to crack 60 points against Wyoming and Rhode Island. Even if everything goes as planned for BC, we won’t see a lot of points on its end of the scoreboard,

That is doubly true given how Villanova has defended this season. Wright’s teams over the last decade became some of the slowest tempo squads in the top ranks of college basketball, and Neptune has continued that trend.

The Wildcats rank 354th in pace (per KenPom), with Villanova’s opponents averaging the longest possession length at over 19 seconds per trip down the floor.

Villanova is going to make BC work for every look at the rim, a terrible recipe for the BC offense. Without anything easy, the Eagles won’t find much at all, especially with a pro-Villanova crowd in Jersey.

That is why I’m also plenty confident in the Wildcats to cover the spread. This Boston College team is dreadful for a power conference team. I listed its bad losses above, but it hasn’t looked any better against good competition.

In two games against top-100 opponents this season, BC was blown out at Duke and lost by 21 at Nebraska.

I’ll believe the Eagles can compete with a tournament-quality team — like Villanova with Whitmore playing — when they finally do so.

Pick: Villanova -7.5 | Under 130.5

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