Villanova-St. John’s Betting Preview: Can Red Storm Improve NCAA Tournament Hopes?

Villanova-St. John’s Betting Preview: Can Red Storm Improve NCAA Tournament Hopes? article feature image

Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Shamorie Ponds

Following a jam-packed college basketball slate on Saturday, including No. 23 Iowa State nabbing a revenge win at No. 18 Kansas State, just three ranked teams take the court on Sunday. Among them, No. 13 Villanova (20-5, 11-1) travels to Madison Square Garden to battle unranked St. John’s (18-7, 6-6) in a Big East clash.

CBS bracketologist Jerry Palm told the Action Network that a win over the Wildcats wouldn’t nail down a spot in March Madness for the Red Storm. Nevertheless, it would help their cause to end a three-year absence from the big dance.

Chris Mullins’ team is listed as a No. 9 seed on Bracket Matrix, which digests countless bracket projections to deliver a cumulative ranking.

Where’s the value in this critical conference matchup? Let’s break it down.

>> All odds as of Saturday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and win probabilities on your bets.

Villanova Wildcats at St. John’s Red Storm

  • Spread: Villanova -4
  • Over/Under: 146
  • Time: 5 p.m. ET
  • TV: Fox Sports 1

The Wildcats (17-8 against the spread) have covered in eight of their past nine games while the Red Storm (10-13-2 ATS) are 2-4-1 ATS in their last seven, including a push in a four-point overtime win over Butler on Tuesday.

In their last meeting on Jan. 8, Villanova went on a 25-12 run over the final 10 minutes to seal a five-point win despite St. John’s still covering (+6.5). Wildcats guard Phil Booth (18.5 ppg) was the difference, scoring 10 of his 23 points in the final seven minutes.

Booth and his teammates combined to shoot 12 of 32 (37.5%) from behind the arc, and they own the highest eFG% (56.2%) in the league overall. However, the Red Storm have shored up their perimeter defense since then, yielding the lowest 3-point clip (33.1%) in Big East play.

In-conference foe Marquette proved the Wildcats’ attack will struggle when their perimeter offense isn’t clicking. Marquette held Villanova to a 31.0% 3-point clip in its one-point win on Feb. 9. Expect a vengeful performance from St. John’s defense in this one.

At the other end, the individual matchup between Booth and Red Storm star Shamorie Ponds (20.5 ppg) will be tremendous viewing, and Ponds’ unit possesses an advantage off the dribble drive. Despite Villanova’s third-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (103.0 opponents’ points per possession) in league play, it’s allowing the second-highest two-point scoring rate (50.4%).

The Red Storm own the conference’s fourth-highest scoring percentage (51.4%) in that department, along with the six-highest scoring rate (32.7%) from the perimeter. That clip doesn’t stand out, but their prowess for attacking the lane opens up their 3-point shooting, led by Auburn transfer Mustapha Herron (43.0%).

The Wildcats are allowing the Big East’s second-highest scoring rate (36.5%) from that department, too.

According to our Bet Labs data, St. John’s is 4-2 (66.7%) ATS as an underdog this season. Expect that trend to continue in a revenge game.

If you’re interested in the total, the over is 2-1 in the Red Storm’s three duels at MSG this season. Although the Red Storm own the 49th-highest Adjusted Tempo (70.7 possessions per 40 minutes) in Division I, Villanova operates at the 11th-lowest AdjT. I’d pass in this department.

THE PICK: St. John’s +4