Villanova Wildcats at Providence Friars

Villanova Wildcats Odds

The Villanova Wildcats have won five consecutive games — the last four at home, including a 76-61 smackdown of No. 13 Butler on Tuesday — and will now take their improving defense on the road. Villanova has allowed 63 points in its past eight games after giving up 69.3 through the first 10 outings of the season.

Coach Jay Wright is looking for more offensive efficiency — his team shot just 37.7 percent against Butler — but the Wildcats have a variety of guys who can be the lead dog on any night. Five players average double-figure points, with Jermaine Samuels on Tuesday becoming the sixth Wildcat to score at least 20 points in a game this season.

Providence Friars Odds

The gauntlet continues for the Providence Friars, who are set for their third game in a four-game stretch against ranked teams, having loss by four at then-No. 25 Creighton on Jan. 18 and by nine at No. 10 Seton Hall on Wednesday. The Friars are 8-2 at home, and they shoot much better in the Dunkin Donuts Center, hitting 36.6 percent of their 3-pointers there as opposed to 27.8 percent elsewhere.

That’s one reason for optimism. Others are Providence’s 9.1 steals per game, plus-2.7 turnover margin and a Big East-best 13.9 offensive rebounds per game. It doesn’t always translate to offense, however, as the Friars are ninth in the league in scoring (71.4) and last in field-goal shooting (40.5 percent).