The Villanova Wildcats are your odds-on basketball betting favorites to win the Big East conference in 2016-17, continuing on their success of last season. Villanova won the 2015-16 Big East regular season championship with a 35-5 record (16-2 in conference play). The Wildcats beat Georgetown and Providence in the Big East Tournament but failed to get the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Nevertheless, Villanova received an at-large bid and were awarded the South Region’s No. 2 seed where they bested UNC Asheville and Iowa to make it through to the Sweet Sixteen.
In the Sweet Sixteen, the Wildcats overcame Miami and pulled a basketball betting upset over No. 1 seed Kansas in the Elite Eight to reach the school’s fifth Final Four. In the Final Four, they got the best of Oklahoma to gain the right to contest the national championship game. Villanova surpassed No. 1 seed North Carolina to win the second NCAA Championship title in the history of the college, as well as their first since 1985. The Wildcats were the unanimous pick in this pre-season coaches’ poll to win the regular season title for the third straight year.
However, Villanova is far from being a big fish in a small pond. Seven of the conference’s ten teams won 20 or more games, and three finished in the final AP Poll’s top 25. Furthermore, Seton Hall – which defeated the Wildcats in the Big East championship game –, Xavier, Butler, and Providence also made it to the NCAA tournament. Therefore, if Villanova loses the conference title it would in all likelihood because they beat themselves, but that doesn’t mean that the competition is not going to be stiff – because it will be, fans betting on basketball can count on that.
The Wildcats lost a few players to graduation, but seeing as some of them went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft – though they still found their way to pro teams – we can safely conclude that these weren’t sensible losses. On the other hand, the sixth player from the 2015-16 All-Big East First Team, Villanova’s senior shooting guard Josh Hart, will return for his final season of eligibility. Hart averaged 15.5 points, 1.2 steals, 1.9 assists, 6.8 rebounds, and 31.4 minutes in the 2015-16 season. Additionally, Hart was a Third-team All-American-NABC and AP Honorable Mention All-American in 2016, and was named to the NCAA All-Final Four Team, averaging 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games versus Oklahoma and North Carolina.
In addition to Hart, the Wildcats return starters forward Kris Jenkins and guard Jalen Brunson. Jenkins averaged 19.7 points per game in the Big East Tournament and was named to the All-Tournament team, and made 100 three-point shots, including the one that gave Villanova the clutch win over North Carolina. Brunson was a unanimous Big East All-Freshman Team selection, and made the final two free throws that gave the Wildcats a two-possession lead with 3.5 seconds remaining in their NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament regional final win over Kansas. All of the above is what makes Villanova such a basketball betting favorite.