Villanova vs. Creighton College Basketball Odds & Pick: Saturday’s Betting Value on Wildcats (Feb. 13)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Villanova F Jermaine Samuels
- Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats will face Greg McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays in a Big East game on Saturday.
- If the game took place earlier in the year, the odds might be drastically different.
- But now, Shane McNichol sees value on the Wildcats and explains why below.
Villanova vs. Creighton Odds
|Moneyline||-145 / +120|
|Time | TV||Saturday, 5 p.m. ET | FOX|
In Villanova’s ascent to the top-five teams in the nation, every Wildcat fan or skeptic had Saturday’s game circled.
Villanova’s trip to Creighton to face the second-best team in the Big East will mark the Wildcats’ toughest and most important test in over two months.
In the fight for a high seed in March’s NCAA Tournament, a win in Omaha is the ultimate prize on Jay Wright’s schedule.
Creighton, meanwhile, likely has other ideas. The Bluejays sit three games behind Villanova in the loss column in the Big East standings, with two scheduled meetings with the Wildcats over a two and a half week period.
For a team with five upperclassmen in the starting lineup, this game could be a major stepping stone to an eventual run into the second weekend of the Big Dance.
With a lot on the line Saturday, both teams could be attractive options for bettors. Digging a little deeper, the chess match between the two coaches on the sideline will go a long way in deciding this critical Big East matchup.
Bench Production Could be Huge
While these might be the two most talented and accomplished teams in the Big East, neither is particularly deep. Both of these teams rank in the bottom 40 nationally in terms of minutes played by non-starters, per KenPom.
Villanova has just six players averaging more than 15 minutes per game.
Wright essentially only has one reserve guard and one reserve big man he trusts in any capacity, Brandon Slater and Cole Swider, respectively. Not to be outdone, only Creighton’s five starters average more than 15 minutes played.
Greg McDermott plays more total players in any given game than Wright does, but beyond Creighton’s starters, no one sees enough minutes to make a deeply meaningful contribution.
In what promises to be a close game, the benches could be a crucial component.
Foul trouble, an injury or even an unexpectedly up-tempo game could force lesser-prepared players into more high-leverage roles. Both of these coaches are smart enough to take full advantage of an opposing player unready to perform in crunch time.
Is Villanova’s Defense Due for Regression?
It’s a very strange sight to see a Jay Wright team allowing the highest effective field goal percentage in the Big East. With the lack of depth, Wright is asking a lot defensively of his seven rotation players, some of whom are not equipped to always answer that call.
Villanova lacks a rim protector in the paint, with nominal center Jeremiah Robinson-Earl often being pulled from the basket. Only two teams in college basketball block fewer shots per game than Villanova, which manages just 1.5 total blocks on a nightly basis.
That puts an added stress on Villanova’s perimeter defenders, who are more on the hook for stopping penetration than defenders with a reliable shot-blocker behind them would be.
This has led to breakdowns this season, with Wright’s Wildcats ranking outside the top 50 nationally on defense for just the second time in nine seasons. Some of that could be due for regression, with Villanova allowing opponents to shoot 40% from long range in Big East play, second-highest in the conference.
Because Villanova doesn’t allow an inordinate amount of 3-point attempts, there’s reason to believe the Wildcats have been relatively unlucky with their opponents’ makes. In fact, Villanova is allowing the second-lowest rate of shots from 3-point range in the conference.
While Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore and Swider can all be a step slow on the perimeter at times, there should be some expectation for the Wildcats’ defensive luck to normalize in the coming weeks.
Creighton Needs to Score to Overcome Villanova’s Built-In Advantages
Villanova is winning games on the offensive end of the floor, thanks to two key qualities.
First, the Wildcats are the least turnover-prone team in college basketball. They have protected the ball at an elite level, winning the turnover battle in all but two games this season.
Secondly, Villanova takes 3-pointers at the highest rate in the Big East and shoots the best percentage from outside the arc in the conference.
With the turnover battle on its side, Villanova gains extra possessions and uses them to find high-quality looks from 3-point land. For many teams facing the Wildcats, the gap in turnovers and points created from outside the arc can become a chasm between the two teams that is unable to be offset in other areas of the game.
The teams that have defeated Villanova are either built to counteract one of the Wildcats’ strengths or are so good in other areas that they can compensate for the lost possessions and the 3-point success.
St. John’s, for example, was the first and only team to put real defensive pressure on Villanova and won by finally getting the Wildcats to turn the ball over.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, recouped the extra possessions lost in the turnover margin by outrebounding Villanova, 40-31, and outscoring the Wildcats at the free-throw line.
Creighton’s defense is not calibrated to force turnovers or keep Villanova off the 3-point line.
The Bluejays will need to instead find a way to counterbalance Villanova’s extra possessions. Creighton is a below-average rebounding team and does not get to the free-throw line at a high rate. Aside from a lightning-in-a-bottle shooting performance, it’s hard to see the Bluejays beating the Wildcats at their own game.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Villanova has found success this season when forcing the issue and playing its preferred style of basketball. In the few cases in which the Wildcats have tripped up or struggled, their opponents have sped them up and forced Villanova out of its comfort zone.
In the half-court, Villanova’s veterans know how to execute and make winning plays. When forced to play off-schedule, the Wildcats haven’t had the answers.
Creighton, however, does not profile as the kind of team that will be able to force the issue against Villanova. Without the pieces to defensively attack the Wildcats, Creighton is forced to try to beat Villanova on Villanova’s terms.
That’s dangerous territory.
While the Bluejays might have some history lighting up the scoreboard against Wright’s teams with McDermott and Ethan Wragge still haunting the nightmares of Nova fans, it’s a hard thing to rely on or bet on.
Unless this line moves to where Creighton is receiving a multiple-possession bump, trust Villanova’s shooting and its chance for some luck to swing back its way defensively.
If you can’t find the courage to trust Villanova on the road, consider taking the over in a game that should feature a high number of 3-point attempts on both ends.
Pick: Villanova -4 or better.