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Rivalry Renewed: Syracuse Meets Villanova At MSG

Cole Swider and the Orange are home underdogs in Villanova-Syracuse betting odds.

The Syracuse Orange (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) will try to top a familiar foe on Tuesday in their home away from home at Madison Square Garden as they meet the sixth-ranked Villanova Wildcats (6-2, 4-4) as solid underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The former Big East rivals will battle for the first time since 2014 when both schools were members of the conference before Syracuse bolted for the ACC while Villanova has stayed in the league and won six regular-season titles since then.

Villanova Wildcats vs Syracuse Orange
  • Date/Time: December 7, 9 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Madison Square Garden
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Villanova -8 | O/U 144.5 (Line History)
  • Villanova vs Syracuse Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The national rankings and oddsmakers each speak volumes in terms of the great respect they have shown for the Wildcats despite their two losses compared to the Orange with three.

Villanova’s pair of defeats came against the top-ranked Purdue Boilermakers (80-74 on November 21) and fourth-ranked UCLA Bruins (86-77 in overtime on November 12) while Syracuse has fallen to the Colgate Raiders (100-85 on November 20), VCU Rams (67-55 on November 24) and 18th-ranked Auburn Tigers (89-68 on November 26). The latter two losses for the Orange both took place in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, but they bring a two-game winning streak into MSG following impressive wins over the Indiana Hoosiers and Florida State Seminoles by a combined five points.

The style of play between these two teams will be interesting and intriguing to watch, as they were involved in a number of high-scoring affairs between 2008 and 2014, with the OVER going 9-2 in the past 11 meetings. This total is the highest for the Wildcats so far this year.

Villanova News & Notes

Villanova is definitely the better defensive team of the two right now, and that could end up being the difference in this one.

In the Wildcats’ six wins this season, they are limiting the opposition to just 56.5 points per game. Surprisingly, the Howard Bison are the only opponent to total more than 56 in a loss and the second to score more than 80 in regulation against them overall this year.

In their last three games vs fellow Big 5 foes from Philadelphia, the Wildcats outscored the LaSalle Explorers, Pennsylvania Quakers and Saint Joseph’s Hawks by an average of 75-51.

Syracuse is a much better offensive team – averaging a little more than 80 points per game – so the defenses will likely be the key.

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Syracuse News & Notes

While the Orange have struggled defensively for much of the season, they turned in their best effort in a 63-60 upset victory against the Seminoles as 7-point road underdogs last Saturday.

Florida State shot 34.9 percent from the field and was outscored 39-28 in the second half, with former Villanova forward Cole Swider coming up big for Syracuse with 16 points and 10 rebounds and hitting two crucial free throws with 10 seconds remaining.

Head coach Jim Boeheim has also shockingly mixed some 1-1-3 zone defense into his infamous 2-3 scheme over the past two games, and the results have paid off nicely. Boeheim’s willingness to adjust at his age has shown old dogs can still learn new tricks.

How Villanova Will Cover

The Wildcats have lost four of the past six meetings in this series SU and ATS and trail the all-time series 39-32. But they have also won two national championships since they last met the Orange, making sure to play a tough non-conference schedule to keep them sharp along the way. Their difficult early-season slate this year should pay dividends here.

How Syracuse Will Cover

This will probably be an emotional game for the six-foot-nine Swider, who transferred from Villanova to Syracuse for his senior year. He is making the most of it and becoming an important starter on both ends. His size and defense could help his new school cover.

Computer Pick: Villanova -9.5

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Shark Bites
  • The UNDER is 3-0 in Villanova’s last 3 games.
  • The OVER is 3-1 in Syracuse’s last 4 games.
  • Villanova is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 December games.