Xavier vs Villanova Odds, Picks: NCAAB Betting Guide

Xavier vs Villanova Odds, Picks: NCAAB Betting Guide article feature image

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Nunge (Xavier)

Xavier vs Villanova Odds

Tuesday, Feb. 21
6:30 p.m. ET
Xavier Odds
-115o / -105u
Villanova Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Kyle Neptune's first year at Villanova hasn't exactly gone to plan with the Wildcats drawing dead for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Late-game failures, injuries and a lack of depth and consistency are all contributors to why the Wildcats are below .500 in the Big East.

Now, they travel to Xavier on Tuesday night.

Sean Miller's first year in his return to Xavier has exceeded all expectations. Even since losing Zach Freemantle to injury, the Musketeers have remained at or near the top of the conference standings and are currently projected as a top-four seed, per Bracket Matrix.

Xavier has one of the oldest rosters in Division I and a great home court. Most pundits would chalk this up as a routine home win for the Musketeers.

Villanova didn't play well in Providence on Saturday, but the Wildcats have certainly improved in the last two weeks since Justin Moore returned from injury.

The market has clear respect for Villanova's true rating, and it has some ways of slowing down Xavier and keeping this game within a couple of possessions on Tuesday night.

Xavier Musketeers

Xavier had no problems dispatching DePaul on Saturday in a game that was never competitive. The Musketeers led by 10-plus points for the final 27 minutes of the game, and DePaul had no answers for Xavier's elite offense.

If a team wants to slow down Xavier, it has to try to keep it off the offensive glass.

The Musketeers are not an elite rebounding team, but they do pull in 30% of misses for extra possessions. Against Villanova, it will be hard for the Musketeers to find second-chance opportunities. Only Creighton has a better defensive rebounding rate than the Wildcats in league play.

The other challenge is keeping Xavier out of transition, where it can be lethal and effective. Villanova gets back on defense well and doesn't turn it over, so it could slow Xavier down and make the Musketeers play in the half-court.

Stopping Xavier in the half-court isn't much easier, though, because the Musketeers boast an elite post-up and ball-screen offense, per Synergy.

Villanova has a solid ball-screen defense because it can switch everything, but the Wildcats have some flaws in the post-up defense. Synergy grades them as below average there, and that's why Freemantle had such a big game in the first meeting.

Freemantle posted 29 points and 11 rebounds against Villanova last time, but his absence means the Wildcats only have to match up with Jack Nunge. It will be a challenge, but playing without Freemantle hurts Xavier's ability to dominate its biggest on-paper advantage in this matchup.

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Villanova Wildcats

Villanova saw an absolutely dismal shooting performance in Providence on Saturday from both Caleb Daniels and Moore, and yet Villanova was still down just four points at the under-four media timeout.

Moore, Daniels and Cam Whitmore shot a combined 1-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc, and the Wildcats shot just 27.6% from deep as a team.

Providence has a solid perimeter defense and a considerably better one than the Xavier defense that the Wildcats will face on Tuesday night. Not only is Xavier just 84th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but the Musketeers are poor at guarding the 3-point line. Opponents are making 35.7% from deep against them in conference play.

The Musketeers are 357th in ShotQuality allowed on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, which is a major source of offense for the Wildcats. Villanova ranks sixth in the country in 3-point attempt rate, and it has multiple shooters making shots at a considerably worse clip than they were last season — Daniels and Moore especially.

It makes more sense that Moore has struggled for efficiency since returning from a torn Achilles.

He's slowly working his way back to productive outings, though. He's scored 13 points in four of the last five contests. If he finds his perimeter shot again — and Xavier is the perfect matchup to do so — Villanova's offense will be much better than the market thinks and the efficiency ratings say.

Villanova has made just 32% from 3 in the league this season, but given the pedigree and quality of its shooters, more shots should be falling.

Xavier vs Villanova Betting Pick

Villanova still can't seem to find consistent perimeter shooting, but if the Musketeers do click at the right time, they'll be the best buy-low team in the entire Big East from now through the conference tournament.

The market consistently moving toward them from the opening line in multiple games in the last two-to-three weeks is a solid signal that they're a "buy" team.

The market opened Villanova as a five-point underdog at Providence on Saturday, and the Wildcats took some sharp money before ultimately closing a 3.5-point dog.

The Cats opened a point higher for this contest on Tuesday in Cincinnati, and much like that game against Providence, I'd still bet the Wildcats at +5 or better.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC