State of the Big East College Basketball Betting Report: Villanova, UConn & Providence Vying for Crown
Greg Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Caleb Daniels (14), Collin Gillespie (2) and Jermaine Samuels (23).
The Big East standings have shuffled to a point where only three teams realistically remain in the running for a conference championship at the end of the regular season.
Villanova and UConn, the favorites entering the season, each have two losses in Big East play. Surprising contender Providence sits above both in the standings, with just one conference loss on the slate so far.
The next group of teams already have four losses in the conference, likely putting them out of contention. Even though Marquette has wins over Villanova and Providence, the Golden Eagles started Big East play with three straight losses, digging a hole likely too deep to escape.
The good news for bettors and fans is we still have at least four games between the three teams battling at the top to decide the conference crown.
Those games will obviously go the furthest in determining our champion but also act as key demarcation lines for when to place a futures bet.
UConn at Villanova: Saturday, Feb. 5
The race at the top of the standings heats up next weekend, with the Huskies in South Philadelphia for a date at the Wells Fargo Center.
These teams have yet to meet this season and should make for a fascinating clash of styles. Villanova’s playmaking guards will have their hands full with the feisty Connecticut defense, though the battle in the paint between Eric Dixon and Adama Sanogo could be the deciding factor.
If you’re a UConn believer, this is likely a game it needs to win, or at least threaten to win, to have a chance to finish atop the conference.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie who likes the chances that UConn loses here but makes up for it by running the table elsewhere, hold your bet until after this game. A Villanova win will jump UConn’s futures odds substantially back upward.
Villanova at Providence: Tuesday, Feb. 15
Unexpectedly, this has grown into the biggest game of the Big East’s year.
Providence has gelled around its veteran leaders and Ed Cooley’s typically gritty style of play to burst out to an 18-2 start to the season. If they could beat Villanova at home at the Dunk, the Friars would have paved a path to the league title.
A win over vaunted Villanova would not be new territory for Cooley and the Friars. Since Jay Wright’s program has exited the stratosphere, Providence has always been a thorn in the Wildcats’ paw. Dating back to 2016, Providence has topped Villanova on four occasions, the second-most of any Big East team.
Villanova at UConn: Tuesday, Feb. 22
This is a game Friars fans will be watching with a keen eye, regardless of the outcome the prior Tuesday in Providence.
This is the most difficult game left on Villanova’s schedule, per KenPom’s projections. His numbers give Connecticut a 48% chance to win here, compared to just 34% for Providence when it hosts Villanova.
If the Huskies lose this one, it’s hard to see how they remain in play for the top of the conference without Villanova and Providence falling prey to some fairly considerable upsets.
Providence at Villanova: Tuesday, March 1
I hope Villanova fans have their Tuesday nights cleared. The Wildcats play the three biggest games of their Big East season on back-to-back-to-back Tuesdays.
If Providence enters this game tied with Villanova in the standings, or still holds a one-game lead, it’s not hyperbole to call this the biggest regular-season Providence game in over a decade. I’d argue it would be the biggest game for the Friar program since a team led by Ryan Gomes lost to a highly-ranked Pitt team in 2004.
If this game arrives and means that much, you’re likely too late to bet on the Friars in a future. If you’re a Providence believer, the sooner you can jump on their chances, the better.
UConn at Providence: TBD
This is the question mark atop the Big East standings. Providence won the first meeting between these teams on the road in Storrs, but their second scheduled date was canceled due to COVID-19 issues in the Friar program.
If this game does not get rescheduled, Providence’s path to the title looks a lot easier.
Providence has only four conference road games remaining, with three coming against teams in the back of the pack in the conference (St. John’s, Georgetown, and Butler) before the big trip to Villanova. The Friars would also have tough home games against Xavier and Creighton, but Providence is currently unbeaten at the Dunk and would be favored in both of those matchups.
If you’re looking for a way to get value on Villanova finding its way to the top of the conference, keep an eye on if and when this game is rescheduled. If it makes its way back on the schedule, the Wildcats’ odds will likely only get shorter.
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