La Salle vs. Villanova Odds
The Villanova Wildcats look like they will once again contend for a Big East championship, likely against Creighton and Xavier. However, first they will need to take care of some close Philadelphia neighbors in the La Salle Explorers in Monday’s opening game in Finneran Pavilion.
Villanova loses a couple key pieces in Jermaine Samuels and Collin Gillespie. Justin Moore will start the season on the shelf with an injured Achilles, but is progressing nicely.
La Salle had some key roster turnover as it lost its top three scorers and rebounders from 2021-2022.
New head coach Fran Dunphy (formerly at Temple) recruited Hassan and Fousseyni Drama from Saint Peter’s, but will need to fill in the gaps left by Clifton Moore, Jack Clark and Christian Ray to contend in the Atlantic 10 this season.
The Explorers could be atop the Atlantic 10 in a few years, but not in 2022-2023.
Villanova has to plug some holes in the short term, but once the Wildcats figure out their main issue at point guard, they are in strong shape to possibly grab another conference title.
Given their rebounding and defensive edge, the Wildcats should handle La Salle and cover the spread in the opener.
It is never easy for a new coach in one year. Murphy has been in the Philadelphia area before and consistently contended with the Temple Owls.
It would be a successful reign if he were to get the Explorers to that level. However, this team is not looking that way unless it shocks the basketball world. Per KenPom, the Explorers are ranked in the bottom three.
Their front court took a figurative beating. Moore, Clark and Ray combined for nearly 19 rebounds per game last season, one area of strength in an abysmal 11-19 campaign.
Hassan and Fousseyni Drama did average a combined 11.7 boards per game last year for Saint Peter’s, so they’ll help ease the pain down low for Murphy.
Rokas Jocius is an incoming freshman who will split time with the Dramas down low. He is a 6-foot-10 forward from Lithuania who can provide a boost of size.
Even still, Villanova will dominate in comparison, as these forwards and centers are under a new system and coach. The cohesiveness will take a minute.
In addition, determining the main source of scoring is a work in progress for a new coach and team like this.
Jhamir Brickus will lead the offense after leading the team in assists last season (3.3). Khalil Brantley and Anwar Gill will see time at the guard position, as well. Brickus and Brantley should provide some stability in the backcourt for Murphy.
The backcourt will be the largest concern for Kyle Neptune and the Villanova Wildcats. Neptune inherits Jay Wright’s former team and will be without some key pieces at guard.
With Moore out for a bit and Gillespie gone, they will need some combination of Mark Armstrong (No. 56 national recruit), Brendan Hausen (No. 114 national recruit), Caleb Daniels (senior) or Chris Arcidiacono (senior) to man the point guard position.
Daniels will likely lead the offense after averaging over 10 points per game last season.
On the wing and down low, Villanova’s key to success comes from Cam Whitmore, the No. 14 recruit in the country. Here is an example of what he is capable of, but remember, he is injured.
Villanova freshman, Cam Whitmore is a prospect I’ll be keeping an eye on.
At 6-foot-7, Cam posses elite bounce and finishing around the basket.
With an ever improving outside stroke, he could be the athletic wing Detroit so desperately need: pic.twitter.com/GD00c6ytxt
— Jack Kelly (@jack_kelly_313) November 3, 2022
Bear in mind, he will be a little raw, but the forward position will be the strength of this Villanova team until Moore returns.
Eric Dixon returns (9.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG) as a junior. Brandon Slater will be some needed depth down low, too.
La Salle vs. Villanova Betting Pick
Even without Gillespie or Moore in the lineup, Villanova should roll with the talent down low. Expect the Wildcats to slow the game down and work through Dixon.
Daniels and the other guards should handle their business against the rebuilding Explorers.
Murphy may have his troops in line for a strong first half, but the Villanova size will prove too overwhelming in this opener.
Take Villanova at -15.5, and play it to -17.5.