NCAA basketball on Tuesday night and we will see the Villanova Wildcats take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Madison Square Garden. The game has a start time of 7:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Vegas odds have the Wildcats listed as 4.5 point favorites, while the total sits at 139.
Analysis: The Villanova Wildcats come into this game ranked 7th in the nation with a perfect 8-0 record. This is a neutral site game and the Cats are 3-0 in such games this year. Villanova is 20-6-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games and 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs. Big Ten, but just 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 50 points in their previous game. The Cats have been a solid offensive team so far, ranking 64th in scoring (75.4 ppg), 70th in shooting (46.9%), 184th in 3 point shooting (33.9%) and 145th in FT shooting (69.7%). Villanova has played great defense this year, ranking 19th in scoring (55.8 ppg), 102nd in defensive FG% (39.7%) and 20th in 3-point defense (26.3%).
The Illinois Fighting Illini have had a solid 7-1 start to their year, which has them sitting at 25th in the polls. The Illini are 2-0 on neutral courts this year, which includes Wins over Baylor and Indiana State. Illinois is 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 neutral site games and 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record, but 0-6-2 ATS in their last 8 Tuesday games. The Illini have been a very good offensive team, ranking 15th in scoring (83.9 ppg), 92nd in shooting (46.1%), 40th in 3 point shooting (39.9%) and 5th in FT shooting (77.5%). The defense has been solid for this team as they come in ranked 119th in scoring (62.8 ppg), 46th in shooting (37.8%) and 67th in 3 point defense (29.7%)
Pick: Gonna go with the Under in this one. The Illinois offense has looked solid this year, but the numbers may be a bit deceiving as they have scored just 61.5 ppg vs the two teams they have played that are from a power 6 conference (Baylor & Miami). Illinois put up 107 and 114 vs Austin Peay and Coppin State respectively, but taking on a Villanova defense that is 19th in the nation in points allowed (55.8 ppg) is a whole different animal. The Wildcats have also had some decent offensive numbers, but were only able to muster 60 points vs their lone power 6 conference team they faced (Michigan). Both teams defend the 3 point line very well and Villanova is not a good free throw shooting team. Some time these big arena venues are not good for shooting by these schools that just don't play in arenas this big and I feel that will help keep the scoring down here. This game should also be close late and that will lead to Walking the ball up the court to look for the perfect shot. Defense is the name of the game in the Garden tonight.
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