NCAA Basketball Handicapping: Saint Joseph’s Hawks at Villanova Wildcats Predictions

Saint Joseph’s Hawks at Villanova Wildcats
Friday, 12/3/10, 8:30 PM EDT, TV:  ESPNU
Opening Point Spread:  Villanova -19
Current Betting Line:  Villanova -19.5
Opening Total:  146
Current Total:  144.5

The Villanova Wildcats are 19.5-point home favorites against Saint Joseph's and looking to win their 42nd straight games on campus tonight

Saint Joseph’s enters this Big 5 opener of the 2010-11 season with a 3-3 overall record and posted a 2-2 mark in the City Series last season.  The Hawks will be looking to bounce back from a 62-50 loss to Drexel on Wednesday, getting out-rebounded by a 46-23 margin on the glass.  “From the first tape I watched until the pre-game talk, the number one thing was rebounding,” said coach Phil Martelli.  “If we rebounded, we’d win the game.”  The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for a team that lost its first two contests of the year to Western Kentucky and Penn State.  The program is fielding its youngest team under Martelli with two seniors, one junior, four sophomores and five freshman.  Saint Joseph’s is 3-2 ATS as an underdog this season and the college basketball lines page has them listed as a double-digit underdog.

The Hawks will be playing their first nationally-televised game of the season and went 1-2 in this situation last year.  Saint Joseph’s has won a total of 19 Big 5 titles, which is third all-time to Temple’s 25 titles.  A key component of pulling off a possible upset of this magnitude is the team’s ability to knock down free throws, ranking second in the Atlantic 10 by shooting 73.2 percent.  The squad has featured the same starting lineup in all but one game this season, which is also the youngest lineup ever as mentioned before.

Villanova will play its first game after suffering a 78-68 loss to Tennessee in the Preseason NIT Championship game at Madison Square Garden.  The Wildcats shot a season-low 34.5 percent in the contest and coach Jay Wright tried to prepare his team mentally for a physical 40 minutes of play.  “Coach told us they were going to come out and play hard and that’s what they did,” said guard Corey Stokes.  “He said it would be a street fight.”  The Wildcats have a great opportunity in bouncing back due to a 21-2 record in their last 23 Big 5 games, winning tight games over tonight’s opponent the last two seasons.  Villanova is 10-3 ATS as a home favorite of 12.5 or more points.

The Wildcats will be playing the first of three consecutive City Series games, battling Penn next Wednesday and ending with a trip to La Salle on Sunday.    Senior guard Corey Fisher is the team’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game and is joined by the sharp-shooting Stokes in the backcourt.  Stokes is 16-of-41 from beyond the arc this season and is 191-of-512 for his career.  Both of those players figure to play a key part in extending Villanova’s 41-game winning streak at its on-campus home tonight.

Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Hawks are 5-1 ATS versus the Big East, while the Wildcats are 15-6-1 in their last 22 games against A-10 competition.

The college basketball handicappers at Maddux Sports are off to a flying start and can’t wait for you to join them tonight!

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