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Marquette vs Villanova Betting Odds, Picks | Golden Eagles’ Time to Shine

Marquette vs Villanova Betting Odds, Picks | Golden Eagles’ Time to Shine article feature image
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Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Shaka Smart (Marquette)

Marquette vs Villanova Odds

Saturday, Dec. 31
2 p.m. ET
FS1
Marquette Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-102
145.5
-110o / -110u
+134
Villanova Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-120
145.5
-110o / -110u
-162
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

It’s hard to overstate how big this game is, even if it’s only early in the season.

Marquette looks revitalized. It took Shaka Smart a year, but he has Marquette playing like his old VCU teams, up-tempo and aggressive. The Golden Eagles are 10-4 with wins over Baylor, Creighton and Seton Hall.

Meanwhile, Villanova is slowly recovering from its disastrous early-season play. Once Cam Whitmore got back in the mix, Nova picked up wins over Oklahoma and St. John’s.

Kyle Neptune is still working out the kinks, but the Wildcats are playing like the Jay Wright-led teams.

There are two questions surrounding this game:

  1. How high is Marquette’s ceiling?
  2. Has Villanova turned a corner?

But there’s also a third, much more important question: where does the value lie?


Marquette Golden Eagles

Marquette is getting to the rim so easily. The Golden Eagles take 39.7% of their shots at the rim, ranking in the 97th percentile. They’re making over 70% of those shots and scoring an absurd 42.3 paint PPG.

The Golden Eagles are running Shaka’s up-tempo, pick-and-roll offense, rolling to the rim at the 14th-highest rate nationally. Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones are connecting with Oso Ighodaro and David Joplin over and over, and it’s shocking the college hoops world.

Ighodaro is such a unique weapon. Shaka can run him through ball screens and switch him onto smaller guards, or he can use the 6-foot-9 small-ball center to run the ball screens himself. Plus, he rebounds like crazy and is Marquette’s best defensive player in EvanMiya’s DBPR metric.

Against Seton Hall, Ighodaro finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. He was an unstoppable force.

Oso Ighodaro is the only player this season meeting these criteria:

Ast/TO Ratio ≥ 2;
Dunks made ≥ 25

His combination of passing on offense and switchability on defense will eventually get him in the league.

#60 on my board. pic.twitter.com/2T5yK8ItQe

— Ersin Demir (@EDemirNBA) December 28, 2022

The Marquette defense isn’t overwhelming, but the Golden Eagles actively force turnovers to create fast-break opportunities. Marquette is top-50 in defensive turnover rate and is producing 17.6 fast break PPG.

Everything came together in the Baylor win. Marquette forced 20 turnovers, managed 18 fast-break points and got Ighodaro 10 points against the smaller Baylor guards.

It was perfect Shaka ball.

Marquette isn’t perfect, however. The defense is still vulnerable to bigger interior scorers, as its three losses came in poverty defensive efforts against Purdue’s Zach Edey, Wisconsin’s Tyler Wahl and Providence’s Bryce Hopkins.

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Villanova Wildcats

Once Justin Moore is back, Villanova has a pretty high ceiling. Whitmore has proven he’s worthy, and the Wildcats’ frontcourt is solid with Eric Dixon (and Moore when he’s playing small-ball).

Caleb Daniels is the real distributor for the Wildcats, averaging close to four assists per game and ranking in the 84th percentile in assist rate. He gets the ball where it needs to go.

Villanova plays the way it always has, at a glacial pace around the perimeter, looking for open 3s. Villanova is 354th in tempo and eighth in 3-point rate.

The Wildcats always takes care of the ball, and they’re the best free-throw shooting team in the league. The 3s haven’t fallen yet, but ShotQuality does project the Wildcats for some slight positive regression.

And once the 3s do fall, the Wildcats could be very dangerous. Villanova ranks in the 93rd percentile in half-court PPP (.979) by draining 53.9% of its 2-point attempts.

The Villanova defense is highly questionable. The Wildcats are allowing a million 3-point shots, not contesting anything and not pressing any ball-handlers.

Predictably, it hasn’t worked. Nova has fallen to 119th in defensive efficiency, its lowest mark since 2012.

This is a surprising development for a team that has been great on defense historically. By EvanMiya’s DBPR metric, Whitmore has been the team’s best defensive player and Mark Armstrong is the only other above-average defender.

The Wildcats have kept guys away from the rim, relatively. But they’re still getting shredded in every area defensively.


Marquette vs. Villanova Betting Pick

Shaka as an underdog is an auto-bet.

Smart is 73-49-3 ATS as an underdog in his career, covering 60% of the time for a 15.6% ROI. He’s even better as a road dog:

The trend includes this season, where Marquette is a perfect 3-0 ATS.

Villanova has not convinced me of anything yet, and this isn’t the best matchup. Villanova’s interior defense is very vulnerable, and Marquette’s interior offense looks unstoppable.

Additionally, Villanova is just 3-8 ATS when favored this year and 2-5 ATS at home.

Villanova has been fine guarding the pick-and-roll ball-handler, but it’s struggled against the roll man (1.111 PPP allowed, 24th percentile). That creates the perfect opportunity for Ighodaro to dominate by switching to Whitmore or Daniels.

I’m keeping this play smaller because the situational spot favors Villanova, but I won’t ever pass up the opportunity to bet Shaka catching points.

If this line flips where Marquette is favored, it’s a stay-away. I likely wouldn’t play Marquette at a PK, either.

The under also looks good, considering Villanova’s glacial pace. Marquette could also be tired following a physical battle with Seton Hall, so that’s a lean for me.

Pick: Marquette +1.5 (Play to +1)

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