College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Marquette vs. Villanova (Wednesday, Jan. 19)

College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Marquette vs. Villanova (Wednesday, Jan. 19) article feature image

Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Moore (Villanova)

  • The Marquette Golden Eagles face the Villanova Wildcats in a battle between two surging Big East teams.
  • Villanova is a heavy home favorite as it looks to win its seventh straight game.
  • Shane McNichol breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Marquette vs. Villanova Odds

Wednesday, Jan. 19
8 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Marquette Odds
-110o / -110u
Villanova Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Villanova has ridden a recent hot streak back to the top of the Big East standings. Behind the Wildcats, a hungry group of challengers is hoping to steal the conference crown from Jay Wright and his perennial winners.

That group of chasers includes Marquette, who is similarly hot in recent weeks. Neither of these teams has lost since January 1, and each would love to put this victory on its tournament resume.

Where should bettors look for value in this Big East bout?

Marquette Golden Eagles

It's been a season of streaks for the Golden Eagles in Shaka Smart's first year in Milwaukee. To kick off the year, Marquette grabbed impressive early season victories over Ole Miss, West Virginia, and Illinois. After an up-and-down stretch through most of December, the Golden Eagles hit a wall, losing four straight, including their first three Big East tilts. They've since crawled out of the Big East basement with four straight wins, reigniting their chances for an at-large bid this March.

Smart has work to do to keep the momentum rolling. The Golden Eagles' schedule takes a scary turn, starting with this trip to Villanova. Marquette then plays Xavier at home, Seton Hall and Providence on the road, Villanova at home, then UConn in Storrs. That amounts to a brutal stretch that will prove this team's mettle or sentence them to a March without a postseason.

If Marquette is going to collect some wins during that stretch, they'll need to see production from Maryland transfer Darryl Morsell. After never topping 20 points in four years as a Terp, Morsell did so in his first five games at Marquette before cooling off as defensive gameplans took notice.

Morsell has turned things around of late, most notably with 26 points in a road win at Seton Hall. Marquette can find ways to score when Morsell is cold or passive, but the Golden Eagles really look tournament-worthy when he attacks and plays like an all-conference level player.

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Villanova Wildcats

Villanova fans have to feel a lot different today than they did on December 17th, the night the Wildcats were blown out on the road at Creighton. This was Villanova's second consecutive loss by 20 plus points, although Villanova hadn't lost two games by double-digits since 2013.

This was also the first time Jay Wright lost back-to-back games by 20+ in his 20-year tenure and the earliest his Wildcats have had four losses since the disastrous 2012 season. Ask the Villanova fan in your life about that 2012 season and Dominic Cheek.

But since that loss to Creighton, Villanova has ripped off six straight wins, including two critical road victories at Seton Hall and Xavier. Looking back, the Wildcats' early season struggles were more of a learning curve than a setback. They lost games to three of the 15 best teams in America (UCLA, Purdue, and Baylor) and shot dismally in a road loss in conference. All were far from panic button territory.

Villanova's offense has re-focused in recent weeks, leading to the win streak. The Wildcats take care of the ball and use their creative backcourt of Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore to initiate offense.

There hasn't been a better guard duo in the nation over the last month than Gillespie and Moore, who can dominate the scoring column or break down a defense to open up looks for their less offensively inclined teammates. That has recently included big man Eric Dixon, whose development from question mark to net positive in the paint has raised Villanova's ceiling.

Marquette vs. Villanova Betting Pick

Villanova is a buzzsaw in Big East games at home, especially playing weeknight games at Finneran Pavilion. Since renovating the on-campus arena in 2018, the Wildcats are 16-13-1 ATS, with an average margin of victory of 14.6.

Villanova is a safe bet to win the game, but I question if the Wildcats can run away from Marquette to cover here because Jay Wright has shifted his coaching style in recent years. His teams used to play much faster, with six seasons inside the top 100 in the nation in tempo.

Recently, he has preached patience. Five of his last six teams ranked 270th or lower in Adjusted Tempo. This team is the slowest yet, averaging an adjusted 62 possessions per game by KenPom's numbers, fourth-fewest in the country.

Marquette has played fast this year on offense, averaging the sixth-fastest possession time but allowed teams to dictate the pace on the other end. Marquette's defensive possessions rank as the 313th-shortest in the country. Smart's team should be content to let Villanova take it's time to find a shot, hoping to grind out a stop rather than force a turnover.

Villanova should win, yet without a foot on the gas pedal and some up-and-down shooting, it's hard to pick them to cover 12.5 points. It's much more appealing to take the total to stay under 138.

Pick: Under 138

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