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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 7:00 AM

The #8 Villanova Wildcats are very much on the short list of college basketball teams who matter this season. They’re off to a 13-1 start, and are projected to be a Big East frontrunner all the way. But, they face a big test Tuesday night on the road against #24 St. John’s. The Red Storm would love to make a statement with a big TV win, particularly after dropping its first two games in Big East action.

St. John’s is still in the rankings even though they’re tied for last place in their conference. Of course, the Johnnies do have a road win at Syracuse. But, Syracuse isn’t in the Big East any more.

Last week…

St. John’s (-1.5) lost at #19 Seton Hall 78-67

St.  John’s (-3.5) lost to Butler 73-69

Those results are either a sign that St. John’s has been a bit overrated by the markets entering league play…or that Seton Hall and Butler have been underrated. Well we KNOW that Seton Hall has been underrated. They’ve been covering spreads all season. Will St. John’s cover a spread Tuesday night vs. Villanova? Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicators stats (published publicly by college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy) have to say about these two teams you’ll be watching Tuesday on FoxSports1.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Villanova: 112.7 per 100 possessions (#12 in the nation)

St. John’s: 105.2 per 100 possessions (#73 in the nation)

Villanova has great balance this season, grading out well on both sides of the floor. They definitely look like they’ll be a contender through the Dance. St. John’s has really struggled on offense once you adjust for pace and strength of schedule (as Pomeroy does). A ranking this low after a soft early schedule has historically been a red flag for pretenders. Can St. John’s score when stepping up in class in league action? They will have to make some shots to outscore Villanova Tuesday.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Villanova: 88.9 per 100 possessions (#10 in the nation)

St. John’s: 89.9 per 100 possessions (#14 in the nation)

Excellent defenses from both teams. St. John’s is still in the polls because of their defense. And, great defense always gives you a chance to play spoiler. Slight edge to Villanova in this case though…setting up a potential defensive struggle in a halfcourt game. Offenses like St. John’s often struggle badly vs. elite defenses…so that could be the determining factor Tuesday unless the hosts get some friendly officiating.


Pace Ranking

Villanova: #144

St. John’s: #154

Villanova has a reputation for fast basketball…but they’re just fractionally above the national average so far this season. The fact that both are so similar suggests that neither can be taken out of their comfort zone. Again, we’re seeing balance for Villanova. That’s important in terms of the national picture. In the Big East, St. John’s must find some shooters to be a truly relevant team. Their defense should keep them in Dance discussions. That’s better than being in NIT discussions!


Against the Spread

Villanova: 9-4 (4-9 to the Under)

St. John’s: 6-4-1 (3-7-1 to the Under)

We included the Over/Under marks this time because both have shown very clear tendencies to the Under. We talked about the great defense both teams play. That’s certainly an issue here. And, the fact that Villanova is slower than normal is important as well. Keep this in mind moving forward. The market has underestimated BOTH teams in their board games…and hasn’t been giving enough respect to these defenses. You’d be 18-8 with your Las Vegas bets if you bet Villanova and Under every time the Wildcats were on the board. Let’s remember though that St. John’s was 6-2-1 ATS before those two Big East losses. Perhaps the market underestimated their ability to beat lesser lights with defense, before then overestimating their chances to shine when stepping up in class.

JIM HURLEY has owned the Big East since the year it was invented! His New York area sources are unsurpassed at providing him with winning information. That’s going to matter in this one (obviously), and all through conference action. Don’t you dare make a move in this one until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!

Game day BEST BETS can be purchased all through the basketball season right here at the website with your credit card. As we go to press, it’s not certain yet whether Villanova/St. John’s will be on the card. You WILL get the best basketball bets on the board once the lines have settled. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours Tuesday or any day this week at 1-888-777-4155.

One more basketball preview Wednesday before we return to NFL Playoff action. Here’s this week’s schedule in the NOTEBOOK…

Wednesday: College Hoops Preview…Kansas at Baylor

Thursday: Early Playoff Look…Baltimore at New England Saturday on NBC

Friday: Early Playoff Look…Carolina at Seattle Saturday on FOX

Saturday: Early Playoff Look…Dallas at Green Bay Sunday on FOX

Sunday: NFL Preview…Indianapolis at Denver on CBS

Monday: College Football Championship Preview…Oregon vs. Ohio State

The stage is set for a historic weekend of football, culminating in the first ever “playoff finale” in college action when Oregon and Ohio State meet to crown a champion. Your next NFL champion will be strongly influenced by what happens this weekend. Build your bankrolls with weeknight basketball…then GO FOR GRIDIRON GLORY Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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