Providence vs Marquette Odds, Picks & Prediction: Target the Total

Providence vs Marquette Odds, Picks & Prediction: Target the Total article feature image

Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Carter (Providence)

Providence vs Marquette Odds

Wednesday, Jan. 18
9 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Providence Odds
-110o / -110u
Marquette Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Providence and Marquette have played three times since Shaka Smart arrived in the Big East in the spring of 2021. Those matchups have resulted in a double-overtime thriller this year, another narrow Friars win in Providence last year and a 32-point Marquette home demolition in Milwaukee.

The close games featured some crazy shots. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles’ blowout victory undercut the Friars’ analytical rankings, partially leading to their “lucky” reputation in 2021-22.

If you asked Smart and Ed Cooley what's going to happen on Wednesday night, I think even they would confess perplexion.

Both coaches are among the best “underdog” coaches in the entire sport. Cooley’s Friars earn that label here, meaning his staggering 88-57-2 (60.7%) against the spread record as a road underdog is on the line.

That juxtaposes starkly against Smart’s 72-85-3 (45.9%) record as a home favorite.

The historical trends point emphatically one way.

Surely the handicap cannot be that simple, right?

Providence Friars

It’s hard to say anything negative about this Friars team.

A new cast of characters (lost all five starters from last year) beat who it was supposed to in the non-conference. The Friars went 0-3 against top-100 foes — all away from home — but have clearly found themselves in league play.

Home victories against UConn and this Marquette squad adorn the resume, and even the lone loss — at Creighton — was an ATS victory (as a road underdog — notice a theme?).

Cooley’s class of transfers has meshed well, with Bryce Hopkins emerging into a Big East Player of the Year candidate and Devin Carter stabilizing the backcourt.

Noah Locke, Clifton Moore and Corey Floyd Jr. have capably slotted into complementary roles.

Carter and junior Alyn Breed will be under the microscope here. Super senior point guard Jared Bynum is questionable with an abdominal issue that has kept him out the past two games.

Cooley even said his veteran leader was “not all that close to play” on Saturday. His absence makes the cover at Creighton even more impressive, but it could be highly detrimental against the Golden Eagles.

Marquette’s pressure is a tough matchup for a team missing its best ball-handler. Smart’s defense wants to speed foes up and force turnovers or quick shots.

It’s not quite the “Havoc” of the VCU days, but it certainly aims to set the tempo.

If Carter and Breed succumb to that pressure and play frenetically, the Friars will struggle.

Providence has a glaring advantage on the glass, however. If the Friars can avoid turnovers and get shots on the rim, their bigs — Ed Croswell, Hopkins, Moore — will gobble up put-back opportunities.

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The Golden Eagles’ evolution into one of the country’s truly elite offenses has been a stunning one. In 13 years as a head coach, Smart has had more offenses rank outside KenPom’s top 100 (three) than inside the top 25 (one).

He has long held a reputation as a defensive guru.

As Lee Corso would say: not so fast, my friend.

This year’s Marquette squad ranks second (!) in KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, weaponizing pace and a wealth of skill to overwhelm opponents.

The attack is bookended by two truly elite passers in point guard Tyler Kolek and center Oso Ighodaro, and Smart has emboldened the entire team to play confidently in a free-flowing offense.

Focus too much on Kolek and Ighodaro, and Kam Jones and Olivier-Maxence Prosper will dice you to pieces.

Even sixth man David Joplin is a prolific bucket-getter.

Marquette has been limited by its defense, a strange turn for a coach who has consistently suffocated opponents on that end.

Ighodaro is somewhat thin (as is his backup, New Zealander freshman Ben Gold), and Shaka’s lineups heavily feature speed and skill over physicality. Against a punishing frontline like Providence’s, that could be an issue.

In the first meeting, Providence won the battle on the glass 48 to 33. The Friars earned 49 free-throw attempts.

Marquette fans will point squarely at the officials for that total, but it’s also partially because Providence is stronger at essentially every position. They batter opponents inside.

The Golden Eagles must keep the Friars off the stripe in this one.

Providence vs Marquette Betting Pick

Parsing out which side to be on is a challenge.

The “Cooley as a road dog” angle intrigues me, but it’s hard to back the Friars without Bynum against a pressuring defense.

Given that indecision, it feels smartest to stay away from a side. Instead, I’m eyeing the total.

Providence should score easily in the paint and at the free-throw line, as it did in December. Marquette’s fire-breathing dragon of an offense can always get scorching hot as well, and it should be fueled by steals and transition opportunities.

Those steals should also give the tempo a boost.

With that combination, I like the over in this one.

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