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College Basketball Odds, Picks, Prediction for Villanova vs. St. John’s (Friday, Jan. 20)

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Prediction for Villanova vs. St. John’s (Friday, Jan. 20) article feature image

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Andre Curbelo (St. John’s)

Villanova vs. St. John’s Odds

Friday, Jan. 20
7 p.m. ET
Villanova Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
St. John’s Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Are we going to have an NCAA tournament without the Villanova Wildcats?

That hasn’t happened since 2012, but certainly looks set to occur this March. That is, unless first-year head coach Kyle Neptune can turn things around in a hurry.

That could start as early as Friday night, when the Wildcats drive up I-95 for a date with the St. John’s Red Storm.

With both teams sitting at 3-5 in conference play, this game has massive implications for Big East Tournament seeding and NCAA tournament viability.

Villanova Wildcats

Over the last decade, you’d struggle to find a more stable college basketball program than Villanova. A few championships and a stranglehold on a premier conference can do that for you.

After Jay Wright’s retirement, however, this first season under Neptune has been anything but steady. The Wildcats are under .500 for the season and currently can boast owning more Big East wins than just one team (miserable Georgetown).

As I noted in a recent State of the Big East check-in, the issues on the court at Nova this season are not sudden and can be tracked back into Wright’s tenure at the helm.

Don’t tell that to the fans at Finneran Pavilion, a large number of whom spilled boos onto the court during Monday’s narrow victory over Georgetown. They took issue with Neptune’s substitution patterns, a point of contention all year long.

Neptune was, once again, inserting senior guard Chris Arcidiacono into the lineup, while removing freshman phenom Cam Whitmore. Whitmore is a projected NBA lottery pick, considered by some to be in play as high as the No. 3 pick in June’s draft.

Arcidiacono, meanwhile, is scoring just 4.1 points per game in 29.5 minutes of action, the lowest point total for any player in the country seeing that much playing time.

Neptune later said he just wanted another ball-handler on the floor, yet that the move was so widely panned speaks volumes to larger issues on the Main Line. While the outcry might come from fans wanting to see Whitmore used as a scorer offensively, the bigger issues for the Cats are on the other end.

Villanova is allowing opponents to get open looks time after time, from outside the arc and at the rim. No team in the Big East blocks shots at a lower rate or allows a higher field goal percentage at the rim.

Figuring out lineups and scoring only matters if you can stop someone defensively. This Villanova team simply can’t do so right now.

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St. John’s Red Storm

Few teams in college basketball have an identity that is as starkly defined as the one created by Mike Anderson at St. John’s this season.

The Red Storm are playing the second-fastest tempo in all of college basketball, with an average offensive possession time of just 14.7 seconds.

Off a made basket or a defensive rebound, St. John’s gets the ball to any of the four perimeter players on the court at any time and immediately pushes the ball towards its offensive end.

That push is initiated with one goal in mind: getting the ball to the rim. Only two teams in college basketball score more of their points on 2-point baskets, per KenPom.

Anderson wants the ball in the hands of one of his creators, penetrating into a defense to find a look at the rim or a teammate to hit for a dunk.

For those familiar with the play of Andre Curbelo during his time at Illinois, that game plan sounds perfect for the eccentric point guard who transferred to play in his home city.

His full arsenal, both good and bad, has been unleashed by playing at this speed. Curbelo makes a few passes every game that will drop your jaw — sometimes to a wide open teammate and others creating a head-scratching turnover.

He’s joined on the St. John’s roster by two other players — Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu — who are turning the ball over on more than 20% of their used possessions.

In total, St. John’s creates a chaotic atmosphere and makes you play its style. In MSG, good luck.

Villanova vs. St. John’s Betting Pick

In recent history, this has been a good spot for the Johnnies. They’ve covered in five of their last seven tries hosting Villanova and 12 of their last 17 games against the Wildcats anywhere, per BetLabs.

That includes two upset (outright) victories over highly-ranked Villanova teams in 2021 and 2019. This Villanova team is not highly ranked and seems particularly ill-equipped to survive 40 minutes in the St. John’s chaos machine.

The Villanova backcourt is not ready for the tempo or the defensive pressure it’ll see Friday night.

Back the Red Storm.

Pick: St. John’s -7 or Better

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