A spot in the 2019 Big East Tournament championship game is on the line Friday night when the No. 25 Villanova Wildcats battle the Xavier Musketeers in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Villanova (23-9), the top seed and two-time defending champion in the tournament, is looking for its fifth straight championship game appearance. Meanwhile, Xavier (18-14) likely has to win Friday and Saturday to go dancing, but the Musketeers are on a roll. Thursday’s 63-61 victory against Creighton was their seventh in the last eight games. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
The Wildcats are favored by seven in the latest odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 135. Before making any Villanova vs. Xavier picks of your own, be sure to consult the Big East Tournament predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.
This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has raked in the winnings for those following its picks. Over the past two years, the SportsLine Projection Model has returned over $4,000 to $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks. It also entered Conference Championship Week on a strong 11-5 run on all top-rated college basketball picks. Anyone who has followed it is way up.
Now, the model has locked in on Villanova vs. Xavier. We can tell you it is leaning toward the over, and it also has generated an against-the-spread pick that hits more than 50 percent of simulations. That one is available only at SportsLine.
The model knows the Wildcats lead the Big East in scoring defense (at 67.1 points per game). They also are prolific shooting the ball, making 10.7 three-pointers per game, which ranks second in the conference and 11th nationally.
Seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall have led Villanova all season. Both first team All-Big East selections, Booth and Paschall average 18.6 and 16.5 points per game, respectively. In two games this season against Xavier (which the teams split), Booth averaged 18.0 points, while Paschall was at 17.0.
But the play of Booth and Paschall does not guarantee that the Wildcats will cover the Villanova vs. Xavier spread in the Big East Tournament 2019 semifinals.
The Musketeers are playing arguably their best ball of the season. Mired in a six-game losing streak and with its record at 11-13 on Feb. 10, Xavier improved defensively (opponents’ field goal percentage dropped from 44.5 percent to 40.2 percent over the last eight games) and on the boards (the Musketeers’ rebound margin has increased from 3.3 to 7.3).
Everything came together for Xavier in its 66-54 win over Villanova, then ranked No. 17, on Feb. 24. In the decisive second half, the Musketeers limited the Wildcats to just 4-of-18 shooting on three-pointers and a nine-minute stretch without scoring.
So who wins Xavier vs. Villanova? And which side of the spread can you bank on in more than 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Xavier vs. Villanova spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that’s up more than $4,000 on top-rated college basketball picks the past two seasons.