College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for Providence vs. Villanova (Tuesday, March 1)
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Slater (Villanova)
- Coming off of clinching its first-ever Big East regular-season title, Providence travels to the campus of Villanova to take on the hungry Wildcats.
- Villanova won the first meeting between these two teams at The Dunk.
- Shane McNichol previews the contest and offers up his top selection.
Providence vs. Villanova Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
On Saturday, the faithful fanbase of the Providence Friars celebrated the first regular-season Big East title in school history.
The Friars have ridden a roller coaster this season, playing 12 games that were decided by six points or fewer, or in overtime. The Friars shockingly have won 11 of those contests, propelling the team to the league title.
Providence’s lone loss in a tight game came at home to the Villanova team that will finish just behind the Friars in the conference standings. Ask a Wildcat fan how they feel about that fact and you’ll get an earful. Villanova supporters are eager to hang an asterisk on Providence’s championship banner.
The Friars lost three games from their schedule due to a midseason COVID pause, none of which were able to be rescheduled.
Providence’s trips to Creighton and Seton Hall, both possible NCAA Tournament teams, were canceled, as well as a home game against third-place, surefire Big Dance participant Connecticut.
Fans at Villanova would love to argue that a 16-4 Villanova team is more deserving of a championship and the top seed at the conference tournament than a Providence team that could finish 14-3 in conference play.
The math behind winning percentage says differently, though the Wildcat fans will have their chance to make their voices heard when the Friars visit the Main Line for a crucial pre-tournament tune-up Tuesday night.
The merits of this Providence team’s success in close games has been argued ad nauseam.
Some people think the Friars are skating on luck, and are sure to be bit by regression in March.
Others argue that a team full of veteran leaders and strong foul shooters has found ways to win down the stretch time after time.
There’s no reason to re-hash it all here. There are valid pieces to each side of that debate.
One thing about Providence, however, is undeniable. The change in this team, from middling Big East also-rans to league champions, has been primarily driven by a breakout season from junior guard Jared Bynum.
Bynum scored just 5.8 points per game last season, missing a large stretch of games to injury and failing to ever find a rhythm.
In his first year in a Providence uniform last season — after transferring from St. Joe’s — Bynum took 42 shots from outside the arc and sank just five of them, good for an absolutely putrid 12%. In Providence’s first six games last year, Bynum took 17 3s and missed each and every one of them.
He was not expected to be game-changing player for the Friars this year.
Even the first month of this season, Bynum didn’t make much of an impact. He started Providence’s first six games and scored only 6.3 points per game, adding 3.7 assists. He then missed four games due to injury, began coming off the bench for the Friars and looked like a changed man.
Since Dec. 18, Bynum has averaged 15.4 points and 4.6 assists per game, despite starting just twice. In those 16 games, Bynum has made 48% from outside the 3-point arc, including a stretch of three games where he made 15-of-21 long balls.
Bynum, seemingly out of nowhere, has morphed into one of the best guards in the nation.
No matter what you think of Providence’s heart-attack-inducing work in close games, it’s clear that if Bynum plays at this level — particularly if he can stay red hot from 3-point land — he gives the Friars a chance to make noise in March.
You’d be hard pressed to find a team more reliant on its top two players than Villanova is on Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore.
Jay Wright’s backcourt duo does nearly everything for the Villanova offense. Gillespie and Moore rank first and second on Villanova’s roster in points, assists, field goal attempts and free throw attempts.
Per 40 minutes, Moore and Gillespie shoot 16 shots from long range. That’s more than 11 entire teams in college basketball!
Logically, it’s become quite clear that the path to beating Villanova comes through stopping the Wildcats’ guards.
In Villanova’s 21 wins this season, Gillespie is posting 17.5 points per game on 48% shooting from the field and 45% from long range. He also adds just 1.5 turnovers.
In Villanova’s seven losses, his numbers nosedive to 13.9 points per game on 37% shooting from the field and 35% from deep. He also commmits 2.4 turnovers.
The same has been true of Moore’s production. In wins, he’s hitting 43% of his field goals and 37% from long range for 14 points per game. In losses, those figures dip to 38% shooting from the field and 30% from outside for just 10.3 points per game.
Villanova losing games when its two best players shoot worse and score less is not revolutionary. It is certainly a fact that is easier said than executed, yet time and time again this season, opponents have overvalued Villanova’s supporting cast instead of selling out to stop the stars.
No one knows this better than Providence. The Friars lost the first meeting with Villanova after their defense inexplicably broke down on a ball screen coverage and left Gillespie wide open for a dagger 3-pointer to ice the game.
Providence vs. Villanova Betting Pick
This game seems to mean more for Villanova than it does for Providence. The Friars have their regular season title locked up, but the Wildcats are thirsty for revenge.
Finneran Pavilion figures to be absolutely rocking, even for a Tuesday night 6:30 p.m. ET tip.
That’s a scary thought for a Providence team that has to be low on gas coming into this matchup.
The Friars’ last five games were an overtime win over DePaul, the heartbreaking battle against Villanova, an overtime win over Butler, a three-overtime marathon win over Xavier and a win over Creighton on Saturday that ended with half the city of Providence storming the court to celebrate the league title.
At a certain point, something has to give for the Friars. If there is going to be a game where the shooting and close-game luck regression hits, it would be this game against Villanova on the road.
I like Villanova to win this one decisively, but especially early. The Wildcats will look to punch Providence, so the first-half line here catches my eye.