Big East Conference Championship Game Betting Preview


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Seton Hall Pirates vs. Villanova Wildcats (-6.5, OFF)

After silencing Providence’s two stars Friday, Villanova hopes for a similar defensive effort against the 1-2 punch of Seton Hall. The top-seeded Wildcats try to win the Big East tournament for the second straight year, while the third-seeded Pirates can clinch their first tournament crown since 1993 when the teams meet at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

If there was any doubt of Villanova’s status as a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats erased those concerns by topping Georgetown and Providence in its first two games at this event. Jay Wright’s team has won 12 of its last 13 games, most recently an eight-point triumph over the Friars in which Villanova limited Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil to 12 points – 26 below their combined average – on 2-of-13 shooting. “We did the best job we’ve done, I think, on two great players. That’s the best we’ve done,” said Wright, whose team turns its attention to Seton Hall guards Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington. The sophomores combined for 43 points in Friday’s semifinal upset against second-seeded Xavier as the Pirates continued to enhance a solid NCAA Tournament resume.

TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, FOX

BETTING STATS:

Seton Hall – 24-8 SU, 22-9 ATS, 14-17 O/U
Villanova – 29-4 SU, 15-16-1 ATS, 17-14-1 O/U

COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Seton Hall Pirates (-10.7) – Villanova Wildcats (-17.45) = Villanova -6.75

ABOUT SETON HALL (24-8): The Pirates have won 11 of their last 13 games with the only losses in that stretch coming against Butler as they have reached the Big East tournament title game for the first time in 23 years. They were shaky down the stretch Friday but prevailed 87-83 thanks to 23 points from Carrington and 20 from Whitehead, who knocked down three 3-pointers apiece. “I feel like I’ve got the best two guards. I have total confidence in them. As long as I’ve got those two knuckleheads on the court, I feel pretty good,” said Pirates coach Kevin Willard, whose squad overcame 25 turnovers against Xavier.  

ABOUT VILLANOVA (29-4): Versatile forward Kris Jenkins led the way with 21 points against Providence – his 16th double-digit scoring effort in 17 games, a span during which he has made multiple 3-pointers 15 times. Senior center Daniel Ochefu has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury and has played a total of 28 minutes in this tournament, totaling eight points and one rebound. Jenkins and Ochefu are two of the three big men who see significant time for Villanova, which relies on an assortment of guards led by Josh Hart, who registered 15 points and 10 rebounds in each victory against Seton Hall this season.

DANCE TEAM WAR:

TRENDS:

* Pirates are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 vs. Big East.

* Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.

* Over is 5-0 in Pirates last 5 vs. Big East.

* Over is 7-0 in Wildcats last 7 vs. Big East.


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