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College basketball expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the pivotal Big East battle between Villanova and Providence.
ANALYSIS

Villanova vs. Providence Prediction: Should the Friars Be Underdogs at Home?

There is a lot of basketball left to be played, but it feels like the Big East regular season title is on the line when the Villanova Wildcats visit the Dunkin Donuts Center tonight to face the Providence Friars. Though the Wildcats enter today just a half-game back of the Friars, Providence would open a three-game lead in the loss column by way of having played three fewer conference games. 

These two teams have not been ranked in a head-to-head meeting since 2016. So who will win this top ten battle in the first of two regular season meetings?

Here are our picks and predictions for the Big East battle between Villanova and Providence.

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Villanova vs. Providence Prediction

Villanova (19-6, 12-3) has won three consecutive games and six of their last seven. The Wildcats have also played well on the road in conference play of late, winning five of their previous six league road games. 

Villanova has overcome injuries to some of their most important players of late, as Justin Moore missed their win against UConn, and Collin Gillespie turned his ankle and missed the final minutes of that game as well. Head coach Jay Wright continues to suggest that neither of those players is 100%, nor is Brandon Slater (ankle) or Jermaine Samuels (groin). Despite the injuries, the Wildcats are still squarely in the mix for an eighth Big East regular season championship since the conference re-aligned in 2013-14.

Providence continues to go largely under the radar despite a 21-2 start and an 11-1 record in Big East play. Head coach Ed Cooley has to be considered the frontrunner for the Coach of the Year Award, as the Friars were picked to finish seventh in the Big East Preseason Media Poll. The Friars are a perfect 14-0 at home this year, though each of their last four home wins was by single digits. Providence has been very comfortable in close games all season long, as they are a perfect 9-0 SU in games decided by five points or less.

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Not many Big East teams have had success against Villanova recently, but the Friars have, as the two teams have split their last four meetings. One reason for Providence’s success against Villanova, and overall this year, is that they are one of the few teams in the conference that match their experience. Six of their top seven players in minutes played are all seniors, and the lone player that is not is junior point guard Jared Bynum (11.6 pts, 4.2 assists).

Providence continues to be an overlooked team because certain metrics are not kind to them, as their overall efficiency metrics rank sixth in the conference. They rank 29th in the NET compared to Villanova’s No. 6 ranking, and they have the same amount of Quad 1 wins (five) as Villanova does, though the Wildcats have played five more Quad 1 games. The Friars do not necessarily need a home win over Villanova to validate their 21-2 start, but a victory in a raucous “Dunk” atmosphere will silence many doubters. 

The Friars have the experience, the size in Nate Watson, the clutch “closer” in Al Durham, and the coach in Ed Cooley to spur this “upset.” In addition, Justin Minaya is one of the best on-ball defenders in the conference and is versatile enough that Cooley can use him on either of Villanova’s guards (Gillespie or Moore) to slow them down and bother them on the perimeter if needed. But, most importantly, Providence is the healthier team, which is the biggest reason we are backing the Friars at home.

Providence is a perfect 7-0 ATS as underdogs this season, and we like them to cover their eighth straight as underdogs, with a high potential of winning outright.

Villanova vs. Providence Line Movement

Villanova vs. Providence Pick

Article Author

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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