NCAA Betting Preview: Villanova at Notre Dame

By: Willie Bee | Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whoever is assigned the task of putting together the video for the 2010-11 Villanova Wildcats basketball season might want to consider Paul Simon's Slip Slidin' Away for the theme music.  A preseason No. 6 according to the ESPN/USA Today rankings, Jay Wright's squad hung around in the top 10 through the middle of January before hitting a wall.

A 16-1 start for the Wildcats has turned sour with just five wins in their last 12 trips to the floor that includes consecutive home losses to Syracuse and St. John's as they enter the final week of the regular season.

If Villanova (21-8 straight up, 12-14 against the spread) is going to regroup and get back on track, it's going to have to come away from home the rest of the way.  First up will be a trip to South Bend to meet the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Monday.  ESPN has the broadcast starting at 4 p.m. (PT).

The latest setback for 'Nova came Saturday versus St. John's, a team on the rise in the Big East to contrast the Wildcats' slide.  Oddsmakers lined Villanova 6½-point favorites and the game was all but over in the first five minutes as the Red Storm bolted their way to an early 18-4 lead en route to the 81-68 triumph.  Paced by Dwight Hardy's career-best 34 points, including 5-of-9 from long range, St. John's outplayed the Wildcats in every phase of the game on both ends of the court.

The end result was the sixth consecutive loss for Villanova backers with the Wildcats failing to beat the NCAA odds for the ninth time in 10 games.

While 'Nova was dropping its second straight, Notre Dame (23-5 SU, 14-10 ATS) was winning its second straight, beating Seton Hall by a 60-48 score as 9½-point chalk.  The Pirates possibly caught the Irish looking ahead to Monday's game early on as Seton Hall went to the locker room up by three, 27-24.  A 13-zip run in the second half helped Notre Dame avoid the upset in front of the home faithful.

Seniors Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough combined for 43 of the 60 Irish points, adding 15 rebounds between them.  The win left Notre Dame a perfect 16-0 at home this season, 8-4 ATS in the 12 lined games at Joyce Center.

Villanova has won and covered the last two in this series, one at home and one here in South Bend.  Last season's 90-72 victory for the Wildcats came as 11-point home favorites; they were three-point underdogs when they topped Notre Dame on its home floor two years ago, 77-60.  Both games finished below the total.

The Fighting Irish will close out their regular season slate Saturday at UConn, a team they beat at home in early January, 73-70, just missing the four-point cover.  'Nova remains on the Big East highway for a tough contest at Pittsburgh the same day.  The Wildcats fell on their home floor to the Panthers on Feb. 12 as 2½-point chalk, 57-54.

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