Villanova vs. Providence: Prediction, pick, odds, line, point spread, basketball game, tipoff time, preview

No. 9 Villanova is heading on the road for a critical Big East showdown on Saturday afternoon from Rhode Island as the Wildcats take on the Providence Friars. It will be a reunion of sorts for Providence coach Ed Cooley as he faces off against a pair of players he coached during the 2019 Pan American Games, Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels.

They will be pitted against each other as the Friars (11-9, 4-3 Big East) try to hand Villanova (15-3, 5-1) just its second loss since Nov. 24. Providence is hoping to avoid its second three-game losing streak of the season, and a win over the Wildcats would give the Friars a key resume-boosting victory to jolt the program's hopes of getting back to the NCAA Tournament.

Cooley said Gillespie and Samuels, who are second and third in scoring for Villanova, were "wonderful young men to coach and be around," during the Pan American Games.

"But hopefully they have a bad shooting night against the Friars," he said.

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Villanova: Villanova hits the road after a rare stretch of four straight Big East home games. The Wildcats won them all, and the stretch was particularly kind to Saddiq Bey's NBA Draft stock. The sophomore forward, who leads the Wildcats in scoring, hit 18-of-29 shots from 3-point range over the four-game span. At 6-foot-8 with that kind of range, Bey is starting to sneak into the first-round of some mock drafts. His huge jump from freshman to sophomore seasons is a big reason why Villanova is putting together one of the steadiest seasons of any blue-blood program.

Providence: The Friars hung tough at No. 10 Seton Hall on Wednesday before losing 73-64. It was Providence's third loss in four games, and it left Cooley lamenting his team's recent offensive struggles. "Hopefully we can find a rhythm offensively so our defense doesn't have as much pressure on it," Cooley said Thursday. The best bet for establishing that rhythm may be sophomore guard David Duke. The Providence native is making 46.2% of his 3-point attempts this season after making just 29.7% of his 3-point attempts last season. He scored 36 points in a loss at Creighton last Saturday. 

Game prediction, pick 

Latest odds via SportsLine: Villanova -3 

Villanova has won five of its last six games at Dunkin' Donuts Center and is flying high entering this meeting. The Wildcats have been playing solid defense against conference foes, and with Providence still trying to cement its offensive identity, the Wildcats should be able to cover. Pick: Villanova - 3

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