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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 7:00 PM

It’s been very hard for casual fans to truly follow and understand what’s been going on in the Big East this season. Everyone knows Villanova is great…they’ve been in the top 10 all season. But, below the Wildcats? The AP poll spent a couple of months ranking the wrong teams (like Seton Hall and St. John’s, who are currently 5-6 and 4-6 in conference standings). Old standbys from past seasons like Marquette have fallen off the map (3-8 in league play). Georgetown had that stunner over Villanova a few weeks ago, but is 6-5 in their other outings.

Who’s behind Villanova?!

Number two in the Big East right now is Butler. Admit it…you forgot Butler had moved to the Big East! Just behind Butler is Providence. The Friars have quietly put together a solid season that has them getting serious Big Dance consideration. Providence will host league leader Villanova Wednesday night in a game you can watch on FoxSports1.

The good news for Providence is that they’re 3-0 straight up against the teams around them in the standings. They’ve already swept Georgetown. They won at Butler back in early January. The bad news is that they can’t maintain their intensity game in and game out. They were swept by St. John’s, and also lost to Marquette.

The best that Providence has to offer could certainly lead to an upset Wednesday. Particularly with Villanova in a potential letdown spot after getting blowout vengeance vs. Georgetown this past Saturday. And, come March, Providence is on a very deep list of potential national spoilers. But, if the Friars are outclassed here, and then in a quick rematch on February 24…it’s hard to see them as a true team to watch in the Dance. THIS is their biggest home test of the season.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about this matchup…


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Villanova: 114.9 per 100 possessions (#14 in the nation)

Providence: 109.6 per 100 possessions (#42 in the nation)

Providence isn’t great at anything or bad at anything. Villanova is very strong on both sides of the floor. That may make it difficult for the Friars head-to-head because they’re nothing obvious they can exploit. What weakness can they attack? The offense is capable of putting up big numbers. They will have to out-shoot the Wildcats to grab the upset. (Remember that you can read efficiency data for all college board teams at the website of college basketball stats guru Ken Pomeroy).


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Villanova: 89.8 per 100 possessions (#11 in the nation)

Providence: 97.0 per 100 possessions (#84 in the nation)

Very bad news here. Providence really falls off the map defensively. We’ve seen a few teams in that situation here in the NOTEBOOK in recent discussions. They HAVE to shoot well to cover because their opponents are likely to shoot well! Big strike against the Friars in terms of tournament time too. They’ll be vulnerable to upset in the Big East tourney…and then have to shoot lights out to win in the Dance. Handicappers need to remember that Villanova is very solid on both sides of the ball. Only a handful of teams can say that this season.


Pace Ranking

Villanova: #171

Providence: #143

Doesn’t look like pace will be a factor here. Both are within arm’s reach of the national average. And, that means either can move up or down if needed depending on how their opponent plays. Nobody will be taken out of their comfort zone. If you’re thinking about backing Providence, this becomes a case where they’re the lesser team without a clear pathway to an upset. What are they going to do to shock Villanova? Outshooting them may be the only hope. Villanova was ice cold in its road loss at Georgetown. Could happen again.


Against the Spread

Villanova: 15-7

Providence: 13-7-1

Both teams have been money makers this season. Villanova’s mark is more impressive because everyone knew they’d be good…yet they’re still getting the money more than two-thirds of the time. Providence is right at 65%, which is solid as a rock over that many games played. Providence was a pleasant surprise. Villanova keeps clearing high hurdles.

JIM HURLEY was handicapping Big East basketball the day the conference was born! He knows the league inside and out…and will have a selection for you here if it’s warranted. You can purchase the final word for all Wednesday action right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Stop dragging your’s time to win!

More intriguing basketball matchups are coming up in the immediate future. Here’s the current NOTEBOOK schedule…

Thursday: College Basketball Preview…Stanford at Utah in the Pac 12

Friday: College Early Look…Ohio State at Michigan State in the Big 10

Saturday: College Basketball GameDay…Connecticut at SMU in the AAC

Sunday: NBA State of the League at the All-Star Break

Monday: College Basketball Preview…Kansas at West Virginia in the Big 12

Tuesday: College Basketball Preview… LSU at Texas A&M in the SEC

Wednesday: College Basketball Preview…North Carolina at Duke in the ACC

We’ll do our best to check in on all the important college hoops conferences through the rest of February. Every dollar you make in March will be based on what you learn in February! Nobody’s proven that more through the years than JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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