Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST.
1:00 PM EST. This one is right up our alley. In the first Sunday without football since early September, fading highly ranked teams on the road against unranked opponents is a high percentage play and so we’re not going to miss this one that is filled with moving parts.
First, we’ll address the injury situation for both clubs. Marquette sophomore Sam Hauser is currently listed as day-to-day with a hip issue. Hauser played just three minutes in the second half against Xavier on Wednesday due to the status of his hip, as head coach Steve Wojciechowski saw no point in putting him out there in a game that was slipping away from the Golden Eagles. Hauser will very likely be in the starting lineup but it’s something we’re not relying on.
Villanova’s injury is much more serious, as we already know that the Wildcats have lost a player who had started every game so far this season for them. Phil Booth, whom you may remember from his 20-point performance in Villanova’s national championship victory in 2016, has broken a bone in his hand and will be out indefinitely. Booth was averaging 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 2018, and he zapped MU for 10/5/4 in the first meeting this season. The Booth injury is particularly fascinating, as Villanova isn’t a very deep roster. Now, that was with Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels out, and now they’ve essentially traded Gillespie for Booth. The good news is that is a bad trade for the Wildcats, at least at a glance. The medium news is that Marquette has no film on how Villanova will operate without Booth in the lineup, as the injury happened since they last played. The bad news is that ‘Nova coach, Jay Wright is likely to figure out a way to play without one of his most important role players off a short bench but at the end of the day, the market does not care much, as the Wildcats are one of college basketball blue bloods and they come into this game with a 19-1 record and the #1 ranking in the country beside their name.
Villanova is almost a lock to be a #1 seed at the main event in March but with that, along with its #1 ranking this year, comes a premium to pay to back them. This is a narrative that we have stood behind for years and whether the Wildcats cover or not isn’t relevant. We know that we’re getting inflated points here with a decent team that will treat this one like it’s a championship game. Incidentally, Marquette went into Villanova on January 6th and lost 100-90 but that was the game after the Wildcats’ perfect record was ruined and their No. 1 ranking gone. Villanova couldn't wait to play again and Marquette was the victim of those circumstances. This time around they are not. After losing to Villanova on January 6, the Golden Eagles hosted then #13 Seton Hall and whacked them by 20 but those aren’t the only ranked or difficult teams that Marquette has played this season. The Golden Eagles have played the 17th toughest schedule in America. Aside from playing ranked ‘Nova and Seton Hall, the Golden Eagles have also played LSU, Xavier (x2), Wichita State, VCU, Wisconsin and Purdue among others but all this market will focus on is Marquette’s pedestrian 13-7 record and 4-4 record in the Big East.
There are other factors workling to inflate the price on the Wildcats too. For one, they’re 14-6 ATS and they’re the class of the Big East. Secondly, Marquette has some disturbing outings while the ‘Cats have none. Furthermore, if this game gets into the mid-70s possession wise, then Villanova has a good shot at scoring 90-plus points. The first meeting, three weeks ago produced 190 points but that was then and this is now. On this first Sunday, the masses will be all over Villanova on the road and these are precisely the situations and games that we’re always on the lookout for. We may not win but we’re getting inflated points and that’s all that matters to us.
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#818 MARQUETTE +7 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)