Villanova vs. Providence odds, line: 2019 Big East Tournament picks, predictions from expert on 18-12 run

The quarterfinals of the 2019 Big East Tournament get underway Thursday at noon ET when the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats (22-9) take on the eighth-seeded Providence Friars (18-14). Tipoff from Madison Square Garden is noon ET. The Friars dominated Butler 80-57 in the first round Wednesday. They're still on the outside of the Big Dance looking in, however, according to the latest 2019 NCAA Tournament projections from CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palm. A win Thursday would be a huge step, but the Friars are six-point underdogs in the latest Villanova vs. Providence odds, while the over-under is 132.5. Before you make any Villanova vs. Providence picks or 2019 Big East Tournament predictions, you'll want to see what SportsLine handicapper Michael Rusk has to say. 

Rusk built his name by exploiting flaws in public betting. With his economics and statistics background, Rusk uses multiple algorithms pooling with recency bias to produce profitable picks. That's exactly what "The Prodigy" has been doing recently with his strong 18-12 run on college basketball picks. Anyone who has followed along is way up.

Now Rusk has done an in-depth look at Villanova vs. Providence and locked in a strong against the spread pick that you can only see at SportsLine.

He has factored in Villanova's recent domination of Providence. The Wildcats have won eight of the past 10 in this series, and their hot shooting has been the biggest reason. The Wildcats have hit 48 percent of their shots from the field against Providence during that 10-game span.

And while this Villanova squad hasn't had the regular-season success of its recent championship teams, it still has one of the best guards in the Big East in Phil Booth. The senior has plenty of postseason experience and averaged 18.6 points this season. The Wildcats knocked off Providence twice this season, once by six points and once by 18. They were also 19-12 overall against the spread. 

But just because the Wildcats have owned this series recently doesn't mean they're a lock to cover the Villanova vs. Providence spread on Thursday in the 2019 Big East Tournament quarterfinals. 

That's because Providence comes in with plenty of confidence after blasting Butler in the opener. The blowout also gave the Friars a chance to rest key players late, a huge bonus as they prepare for a noon ET tip following a night game.

And the Friars also have one of the best guards in the league in Alpha Diallo, a lengthy 6-foot-7 star who creates mismatches on the perimeter. He's averaging 16.2 points.

We can tell you Rusk is leaning to the over, but his stronger pick is against the spread. He has identified a critical x-factor that leads to one side of the number hitting hard. You can see what it is only over at SportsLine. 

Who wins Providence vs. Villanova? And what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Providence vs. Villanova spread you should be all over, all from the expert on a strong 18-12 run on his college basketball picks

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