At least 10 Big East teams await the call from the selection committee for this year's NCAA
Tournament. That group includes Villanova who is in the throes of a horrible slide after sitting pretty as a likely 2-seed for the tournament and a top-10 team just a few short weeks ago. The Wildcats are listed at No. 19 in the AP poll.
The latest rankings came out prior to the Wildcats laying a 21-point egg on the road Monday at Notre Dame, the loss leaving 'Nova 11th in the conference standings.
Four teams with 9-7 conference marks sit just a half-game ahead of 'Nova currently, and two of them meet Wednesday when the West Virginia Mountaineers host the Connecticut Huskies.
Don Best's Kenny White has set his opening odds at West Virginia minus four with 129 for the total. As important as the spread and total will be for college basketball bettors, grabbing the straight-up win is going to be huge for the eventual victor since a first-round bye in next week's Big East Tournament is at stake.
UConn (21-7 straight up, 13-9 against the spread) hits the WVU Coliseum floor off Sunday's 67-59 win at Cincinnati, a game the Huskies controlled throughout as 3½-point underdogs. The game snapped a two-game skid both on the floor and at the window for Connecticut, the final score just slipping below the 127-point total to mark the third consecutive 'under' for Jim Calhoun's squad.
The victory came on the heels of a disappointing loss at home in overtime to Marquette earlier in the week, a Golden Eagles win that could ultimately help them become the 11th Big East squad to get a dance invitation.
Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers are also coming off a Sunday road win, cover and 'under.' West Virginia (18-10 SU, 11-14 ATS) dropped Rutgers by a 65-54 count, using a 12-2 closing run to easily cover the 3½-point chalk and the game comfortably staying below the 127½ tally. The Mountaineers cleaned up on the glass with a 44-26 rebounding edge and defended the perimeter to the tune of the Scarlet Knights missing 12 of their 13 long-range shots.
Sunday's win snapped a three-game road skid for WVU, their previous win on the Big East highway coming at the end of January at Cincinnati. The Mountaineers are 10-2 at home this season, both losses coming to conference foes (Pitt, St. John's). Connecticut is 8-4 away from its home courts this campaign, 4-3 in conference play.
The Huskies hung a 73-62 defeat on the 'Neers last season at the XL Center in Hartford where West Virginia was slight two-point road chalk. The contest failed to reach the 137½-point total. UConn's win marked its third straight over the Mountaineers in regular season play, a string that includes the Huskies' last trip to Morgantown in Jan. 2009 when the Huskies prevailed as three-point pups, 61-55.
Tuesday's tip-off in Morgantown is a little past 4 p.m. (PT) with ESPN2 providing the pictures. The network will follow this broadcast with the Big 12 matchup at Kansas between the Jayhawks and Texas A&M Aggies.
The Mountaineers close their regular season slate at home this Saturday when they face Louisville. Connecticut will be back home to end the season when it hosts Notre Dame this Saturday.