Final Four Picks: Villanova Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tarheels

Final Four Preview

Villanova Wildcats (30-7) +7.5, 160 O/U vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
(32-4) -7.5, 160 O/U, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich., Saturday, April
4th, 8:47 PM EST, CBS

by Badger of

Once upon a time the Villanova Wildcats knocked off the heavily
favored Georgetown Hoyas led by then-senior Patrick Ewing to
instantly become a part of Final Four lore forever.

This years version of the Wildcats story has some similarities, but
if Cinderella is going to continue it will once again have to go
through a powerful, heavily favored opponent when the Cats take on
North Carolina in Saturday nights late Final Four tip off at Ford
Field in Detroit.


Most basketball oddsmakers opened the line on the game with North Carolina as 7.5-point favorites, but the point spread has dropped the hook to just minus-7 at most Internet Sportsbooks. The
over/under total opened at 160 and has also adjusted slightly down to
159 at most books.

North Carolina was everyones preseason pick as title contenders and it appears head coach Roy Williams has the Tar Heels right on
schedule, peaking at tournament time to the tune of 88.75 points per
game and a 22.5 average scoring margin in the tournament (slightly
inflated by a 43-point win over Radford).

With point guard Ty Lawsons injured toe apparently a non-issue, the
Tar Heels have rolled into Detroit with nary a challenge so far in
their four tourney games as the South Regions No. 1-seed. All right,
so maybe they struggled in a 14-point victory over LSU in round two,
but their 12-point win Sunday over Oklahoma was not as close as the
score indicates.

But the Tar Heels will run into the Wildcats next, who are the
surprise of the NCAA tournament so far, if that can be said about the
East Regions No. 3-seed. The Cats long, athletic backcourt
combinations that can go six or seven players deep and have been
giving opponents fits on defense, with the defensive spotlight
coming when they limited Duke to just 54 points in the Sweet 16-round

The obvious key to this game will be defense, as in, will Carolina
feel passionate enough to play any defense. Villanova has the depth
and manpower capable of running with the Carolina transition game
early on in the game. If Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough can get
Novas Dante Cunningham in early foul trouble by getting his All-
American calls from the refs, it could lead to problems for the

Both teams have been successful at the window too, with the chalk
North Carolina Tar Heels going a perfect 4-0 ATS, while the Wildcats
are 3-1 ATS with the non-cover coming to American in the opening
round as 15-point favorites. For the season Villanova was a solid
19-14 ATS, while the Tar Heels (15-19 ATS) actually were 1-5 ATS in
their last six games prior to the tourney, so what does it matter

The betting trends on the over/under total bet are screwy, since the
team known for playing suffocating defense (Nova) has actually gone
over in three of their four games, while the team with the high-
powered offense (North Carolina) has stayed under the total in three
out of four.

Badgers Pick: This game is going to be worth every penny of admission, as the backcourt depth of Villanova will give the Tar
Heels by far their biggest challenge this season. In fact, Villanova
will cover this game for 39 minutes and refuse to go away. But the
relentless attack of the Tar Heels offense will wear down a foul-
prone Cats defense and backdoor cover the 7.5-points on free throws.
I also think the football stadium seating arrangement and sight lines
at Ford Field will make all four teams struggle to score Saturday,
especially the Cats. Go with the under of 160, and North Carolina
minus the 7.5-points to set up a UConn-North Carolina title game.

Oracles Pick: The Wildcats aren’t afraid of anybody, which makes
them dangerous. The Tar Heels have had relative ease with their
opponents so far, winning by at least 12 points in every game.
Villanova no doubt has had one of the tougher roads of the Final Four
teams. The match up that everyone will be looking at is Ty Lawson and
Scottie Reynolds – and rightfully so. The Wildcat guards will drive
and dish or drive and get to the line in this one. Look for them to
spread the Tar Heels out. Although they don’t have anyone to
physically match up with Hansbrough, the Wildcats will do just fine
with their stellar guard play. Their senior laden team will put UNC
out of the tournament with a shocking win, 79-74.

Wilson’s Pick:
Ty Lawson is on a mission from God! Ok, maybe Lawson isnt one of the Blues Brothers but his Carolina Blue will be streaking up and down the court this Saturday. The Heels are playing like a National Championship team; they have stepped up their game in every area, most notably on defense. Im sorry Villanova, but the journey ends this weekend. Sure, there is memory of the David and Goliath story from 1985 as Nova downed Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas but I dont see that happening again. North Carolina 80, Villanova 67. Luck to ya!

Editors Pick: I like Villanova to win straight up in a huge upset!