Back on New Year’s Eve, Villanova routed Xavier – which entered with a 12-0 record – by a 95-64 margin. Ryan Arcidiacono hit seven 3-pointers en route to 27 points and Daniel Ochefu notched 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks as the Wildcats cruised to their seventh straight win over the Musketeers. Villanova may have actually improved since that day as only an overtime loss to a quality Providence team has separated the Wildcats from a 17-game winning streak. The Musketeers, who trail Villanova by 2 1/2 games in the Big East standings, have won three straight games – all by double digits.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
LINE: Overnight odds from Las Vegas sent our Villanova as a 1-point road favorite with a total of 144 points. Online books opened with Xavier as a 1.5-point home favorite.
POWER RANKINGS: Villanova (-18.25) – Xavier (-16.35) – home-court advantage (-3.0) = Xavier -1.1
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Both teams come into this game with 24-3 SU records, but the first meeting wasn’t close. Villanova embarrassed Xavier by 31 points (95-64) as the Wildcats played a perfect game that will be impossible to duplicate. Villanova shot 63.2 percent from the field, 52 percent from 3-point land, and 90.9 percent from the free throw line. Xavier grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, so if they combine that with better shooting and better defense, the Musketeers have a good shot at revenge.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Two of the top teams in the nation and in the Big East square off Wednesday, No. 1 Villanova visits No. 5 Xavier. Xavier looks to avenge a blowout loss to the Wildcats they suffered back in December 95-64. The Wildcats should open somewhere around a 1-point favorite on the road. Villanova easily covered the 6.5-point spread in the first meeting between these two teams.” – Michael Stewart, CarbonGaming.ag.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (24-3, 13-1 Big East): Josh Hart recovered from a tough two-game stretch with 22 points and 12 rebounds against Georgetown, marking his eighth double-double of the season from the guard position. Ochefu has six double-doubles but none since Jan. 6, although he is shooting 76.5 percent over his last five games. Arcidiacono has shot 33.3 percent or worse in seven of his last nine outings as his scoring average (12.0) and shooting percentage (42.3) have dropped, although both are still career bests.
ABOUT XAVIER (24-3, 12-3): Edmond Sumner scored a career-high 22 points in Saturday’s 18-point win over Georgetown as Xavier shot 77 percent in the second half, showing that the team was not looking ahead to Wednesday’s showdown with Villanova. The Musketeers looked the part of a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament as they shot 29-of-31 from the foul line against Georgetown, committed only seven turnovers and got points from 10 different players. Trevon Bluiett averages a team-high 15.3 points but has reached that mark only once in the last four games and is shooting 5-of-22 from 3-point range during that stretch.
* Wildcats are 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Favorite is 7-0 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.