Upcoming Match-ups

Seton Hall’s Myles Powell Looks to Continue POY Campaign at Villanova as 2-Point Underdogs

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Updated Mar 31, 2021 · 12:29 PM PDT

Shavar Reynolds Seten Hall Pirates
Seton Hall's Shavar Reynolds, Jr. (33) is defended by Providence's Maliek White (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
  • The top two teams in the Big East standings tussle Saturday with home team Villanova a 3-point favorite over Seton Hall
  • The Pirates are coming off a 78-71 win at Georgetown, while ‘Nova lost to Butler on a buzzer-beater the last time out
  • Seton Hall’s Myles Powell scored 34 points against the Hoyas and is a top candidate for POY honors – check our preview for a prediction

The top two teams in the Big East standings tussle Saturday, Feb. 8 with the home team Villanova Wildcats (17-5, 10-1 home) as a 3-point favorite over the Seton Hall Pirates (17-5, 6-2 away). Tipoff is at 2:30 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center and the game will be televised on Fox.

The Pirates are coming off a 78-71 win Wednesday at Georgetown, while ‘Nova went down 79-76 to Butler on a buzzer-beater the last time out. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell scored 34 points against the Hoyas and is a top candidate for POY honors.

Seton Hall Pirates vs Villanova Wildcats Odds

Team Spread Over/Under
Seton Hall +3.0 (-105) O 140.5 (-110)
Villanova -3.0 (-115) U 140.5 (-110)

Odds taken Feb. 7 on (betting site)

While neither team is currently near the top of the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds tracker, it’s fair to say if Seton Hall picks up a victory this weekend, the Pirates might be there next week. So why is Jay Wright’s squad a slight favorite in the Seton Hall vs Villanova odds?

Perhaps because the Pirates haven’t won on the Wildcats’ home floor since 1994. But the way Myles Powell is playing this season, that streak might come to an end. Let’s analyze this battle of conference heavyweights and make a pick.

History Not on Pirates’ Side

There was no World Series and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” ruled the box office the last time Seton Hall beat ‘Nova in Philly. That’s some serious history.  ‘Nova blew out Seton Hall 80-52 the last time the two played in The City of Brotherly Love.

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The 17 games over the stretch dating back to 1994 have been decided by an average margin of 16 points. Only one came down to the wire, a two-point decision in 2008. It’s the longest winning streak by one team against another in the Big East — by a lot.

And Saturday’s contest is the second straight road outing for the Bucs after a solid seven-point win against Georgetown Wednesday. While Kevin Willard’s club has proven it can win back-to-back conference road games already this season (the Pirates knocked off Butler and St. John’s away from Newark last month), doing so again is a tall order. Seton Hall dropped two straight roadies in December, falling to Iowa State and Rutgers in games that weren’t close. Plus, that daunting history is looming.

But Then Again …

“Yeah, I really do think they are a Final Four contender,” Wright said last month. That’s what the longtime Villanova head coach said about Seton Hall. And Wright knows a thing or two about Final Fours, after winning two of the last four NCAA Tournaments. Just look at what Pirates did to the Hoyas Wednesday for a primer.

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This Pirates have the makings of something special. I’ve been touting them as a sleeper March Madness contender all season. Plus, they’re playing with house money Saturday to a certain extent, with a two-game lead in the conference standings over the Wildcats. They’re 6-2 on the road, including 5-0 in the Big East.

“Our confidence has been high,” Powell said. “We want to be a championship team. We want to be one of the top teams in the country.” It seems this could be their year.

Advantage?

In a what oddsmakers think will be a tight one, I’m thinking the opposite. I love Seton Hall in this spot for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is Powell.

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The preseason All-American candidate has lived up to the hype this season. He put up 34 against the Hoyas and is the second leading scorer in the Big East,

Plus, Willard knows two of ‘Nova’s best players, Collin Gillespie  and Jermaine Samuels, after working with them as part of USA Basketball in last summer’s Pan American Games. That inside knowledge of their tendencies should be a boon to the Pirates’ strategy. And Villanova could be susceptible to a pick-and-roll game, as the Wildcats rank last in the Big East in field-goal percentage defense (.437). That plays right into possible heavy usage of 7-foot-2 center Romaro Gill (who also happened to tie a career-high with eight blocks against the Hoyas Wednesday).

All these factors has me on the Pirates to snap the streak Saturday and march toward a high-seed in next month’s Big Dance.

Pick: Seton Hall +3 (-105)

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