Wednesday College Basketball Best Bets: Will Providence ‘Luck’ Into Another Win?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 23, 2022 - Last Updated on February 24, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

There are numerous games with NCAA tournament implications on Wednesday’s college basketball slate, including Xavier at No. 11 Providence. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for this Big East contest.

Click on the odds below to place a bet. Continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games throughout the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

Xavier Musketeers at Providence Friars

The Friars are inching closer to their first-ever Big East regular season title, and their tightly-contested overtime win over Butler on Sunday helped them remain in the mix for a No. 4 seed in March Madness betting too.

Even though the Musketeers are slated to appear in the big dance, they’ve dropped four of their last five games. They fell to Providence as eight-point favorites earlier in conference play as well ⁠— with Friars guard Jared Bynum sinking a last-second 3-pointer to win it.

Hence, Travis Steele’s bunch is aiming to right the ship down the stretch, along with earning revenge against its rival.

Keep in mind, Providence has won 10 games by five points or less while outperforming its shooting metrics by eight wins (via ShotQuality) — both the most of any team across Division I. Ed Cooley’s unit certainly possesses the talent to execute in late-game situations, but will it undergo late-season regression?

College Basketball Best Bets

Nate Watson, #0, celebrates an and-one basket during a loss to Villanova on Feb. 15.

Injuries To Monitor

Friars guard Aljami Durham (sports hernia) missed Sunday’s win over Butler, and his status for this matchup is unknown. Providence lives at the charity stripe, tallying the conference’s highest free-throw rate, and Durham owns the 14th-highest individual rate in the country. Xavier doesn’t send opponents to the line often, yet his absence would be felt during the Friars’ half-court sets in particular.

On the flip side, the Musketeers could be without fellow guard Nate Johnson (knee), who hasn’t played since Feb. 11. Johnson’s perimeter clip has dipped nearly six percentage points from last season, but he’s still shooting 39.4% from behind the arc. His return would provide Xavier with a floor-spacing boost.

  • Update: Durham is a game-time decision while Johnson was ruled out.

Matchups To Watch For

Not only do the Friars have an inflated record, but their ball-screen defense — particularly against off-ball action — is one of the worst in college basketball too. Steele runs plenty of those sets, especially for Iowa transfer Jack Nunge.

Their interior defense is also a big concern despite the 6-foot-10 Watson’s physical presence. Nunge and fellow big man Zach Freemantle can take advantage of just that, as Xavier manufactures the third-most efficient post-up shots in the Big East.

In theory, the Musketeers should have success operating inside-out, but they own the conference’s lowest 3-point clip (30.2%). If Johnson plays and they receive some shooting luck, considering Providence allows its fair share of open looks from distance, this one favors the road underdog.

Before we consider Xavier in a revenge spot, though, let’s see if we can either get ahead of the market on Durham news or rack up more value if he plays for my college basketball best bets.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Xavier +2 (-110; Durham is starting but will reportedly be limited)
Best Available Line: Xavier

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Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

View all posts by Eli Hershkovich