An old Big East rivalry is renewed on Tuesday’s NCAA basketball odds card when the Syracuse Orange and Villanova Wildcats collide in the second game of the Jimmy V. Classic in New York.
Villanova Wildcats vs. Syracuse Orange
Tuesday, December 7, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Madison Square Garden
A throwback to classic Big East basketball is something fans and college basketball bettors won’t want to miss when Villanova goes to battle with Syracuse in the prime-time clash. Though the Wildcats and Orange might be better than 50 places apart in the latest Ken Pomeroy rankings, the intensity will make it feel like a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup.
Villanova did begin the season ranked as the No. 1 contender for the Big East crown on the college basketball futures, and the Wildcats are sitting No. 6 in the latest AP poll as well as the KenPom chart. Syracuse was relegated to the middle of the pack in the ACC, and the Orange presently rank No. 56 in the Pomeroy ratings.
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That gap between the two teams is reflected in the lines at top sportsbooks where backing the Wildcats means giving up 9-9½ points. Playing the scoreboard calls for a decision on a total in the 144-145 range.
Syracuse and Villanova differ on just what the all-time record is in the rivalry, the Orange listing 39-33 in their favor while the Wildcats have it 38-34 on their website. The two schools do agree the last time they met was just before Christmas 2014, and the matchup met all the hype in Villanova’s 82-77 overtime victory. Syracuse was up by five with 17 ticks left in regulation before the Wildcats stunned the Orange to force OT.
Villanova closed as a double-digit favorite in that contest at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, so Syracuse backers at least returned to the window after coming up short on the court. It was the second time the Orange and Wildcats met following the Big East breakup, Syracuse winning the contest about a year earlier at the Carrier Dome. The ‘over’ cashed both of the non-conference encounters, as well as their final meeting as Big East foes.
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Jay Wright’s club has two blemishes, both close losses to then No. 2 UCLA on the road in overtime and an 80-74 setback to current No. 1 Purdue in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The setback to the Boilermakers still stings a little since the Wildcats let a 9-point lead, with eight minutes left, to slip away.
Villanova has since been taking care of business on the annual Philadelphia Big 5 slate, an event the Wildcats have dominated in recent years by winning six of the last seven. The Wildcats are 3-0 now after beating LaSalle, Pennsylvania and Saint Joseph’s.
The latest was an 81-52 beatdown Villanova handed the Hawks at the old Pavilion this past Saturday. Bet365 closed the Wildcats on a -22 line, and Collin Gillespie led the way with 23 points while burying five of his seven 3-pointers.
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Jim Boeheim is still scratching his head – and probably still making his players run extra baseline sprints – for the loss at home to Colgate. The trip to the Bahamas also wasn’t much fun with losses to VCU and Auburn sandwiching a win over Arizona State.
The Orange have since redeemed themselves with a double-overtime win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge over Indiana as small home underdogs on the college basketball odds, and a 63-60 upset at Florida State last Saturday in the ACC opener for both sides. Cole Swider, the senior transfer from Villanova, enjoyed his third double-double in the win over the Seminoles, the loss snapping a string of 25-straight conference home wins for Florida State.
Boeheim has a nice 8-man rotation he’s relying on right now, freshman Benny Williams among that group. The Syracuse coach didn’t mince words about Williams’ lackadaisical effort in the win at Florida State, and it will be interesting to see how he’s used on Tuesday, as well as how Williams grows into Boeheim’s system between now and next March.
Villanova vs. Syracuse Pick
Neither Syracuse nor Villanova is a stranger to playing on the hallowed floor at Madison Square Garden, and both coaches are extremely familiar with one another even if they haven’t faced off in seven years. I’m expecting a close game, maybe not a final possession affair but close enough for me to take the points with my college basketball pick.
NCAAB Pick: Syracuse +9½ (-110) at FanDuel