Villanova Wildcats vs. Baylor Bears Pick
Villanova Wildcats (18-6 SU, 13-10-1 ATS) vs. Baylor Bears (24-2 SU, 16-10 ATS)
When: Saturday, March 27, 5:15 p.m.
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Point Spread: NOVA +6.5/BAY -6.5 (Get the best bonus offer >>> DOUBLE your bankroll with a 100% REAL CASH bonus!)
Last Time Out:
Villanova slammed North Texas 84-61; Baylor knocked off Wisconsin 76-63.
About the Matchup:
Rumors of Villanova’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, as the Wildcats have managed to reach the Sweet 16 in an odd year for the first time since 2009 and just the third time since their miracle national championship in 1985. Villanova appeared dead in the water after losing Collin Gillespie to injury in the season finale against Providence and falling to Georgetown in the Big East tournament, but the Wildcats rebounded and bested both Winthrop and North Texas without ever being threatened.
But Baylor is another matter. Widely seen as the one team that legitimately has the best chance to stop Gonzaga’s march to the national title, the Bears appear to have shaken off their COVID issues and returned to being the team that dominated the Big 12 all season long. The Bears allowed a backdoor cover against an overmatched Hartford squad in round 1, but they looked excellent against Wisconsin in the second round. With multiple days to recover and get back to playing their best basketball, can Baylor keep its march going against the 2018 national champions?
Scouting the Wildcats:
I’ll admit that I’ve been underestimating Villanova ever since the loss to Providence. I didn’t think Villanova was healthy enough to beat Georgetown, and after the Hoyas knocked off the Wildcats at MSG, I decided to go with what I had seen and bet against Villanova in round 1 against Winthrop.
Guess again. Villanova took off without Gillespie and drained 23 3-pointers in their first two games, leading to comfortable wins over both Winthrop and North Texas. But in those victories, they did reveal a pair of weaknesses: they’re still not at all comfortable inside, and they aren’t playing defense quite as well as they did before Gillespie was hurt.
That’s a problem because unless Villanova hits 15 3-pointers again as it did against North Texas, the Wildcats really don’t have a way to attack Baylor’s weaknesses. The best way to do it would be to send Jermaine Robinson-Earl inside to attack the paint, but Robinson-Earl isn’t really the type of big man who likes playing inside. He’s more of a mid-range player, and that showed up in the Winthrop game when the Eagles outrebounded Villanova. If the defense doesn’t get itself back to a championship level, it’s hard to see Villanova keeping up with Baylor.
Scouting the Bears:
The Wisconsin game was much more like what people were expecting from the Bears, as Baylor was seldom threatened against the Badgers and was able to control the game with its excellent guard play. Few teams can start four guards and expect to have much success, but Baylor’s guards are no ordinary guards. The only reason the Bears start four is because it’s totally impractical to start five, but they have five and possibly even six guards who are good enough to start for most teams in the nation.
However, they’ve got a real concern with MaCio Teague, who hasn’t shot it well in two of his past three games. Teague was fine against Hartford, but he shot 27 percent against Wisconsin and ended up with just nine points. The Bears’ defense should be fine because of Davion Mitchell, but Teague is what gives Baylor the ability to be a special team. If he’s not shooting it well, there’s a chance the Bears could stumble.
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Villanova will Cover If:
The Wildcats can either get inside with Robinson-Earl or find a way to get Justin Moore free from Mitchell. As the most dangerous guard Villanova has healthy, Moore is likely to feel the brunt of Mitchell’s defensive skills, which means the Wildcats probably won’t be able to count on him doing much in this contest. If they can free him, great, but more likely, they need to find their second and third options.
Baylor will Cover If:
The Bears start hitting from the outside early. Baylor can get locked into a low-scoring game in this one if Villanova’s defense wakes itself up, but if not, the Wildcats can’t outscore the Bears. Baylor has too much talent to lose to this team as long as it’s hitting its shots, so getting off to an early start will be crucial.
Dan’s Best Prop Bets
With Villanova not playing much defense as of late and Baylor almost scoring at will, I really like the over in this situation. The Wildcats have the ability to score a fair amount in this game because they should get shots against a middling perimeter defense (Baylor’s defense does its best work in terms of steals, not shots, and Villanova tends to take care of the ball). If the Bears do what they usually do, they should hit this number.
However, it might be wise to expect a lower-scoring first half, given that it’s probably going to take some time for both teams to adjust. Baylor has only allowed 50 points in the first half of two games so far, and Villanova held North Texas to just 27 in the first half in its second-round game. These teams can play a lower-scoring first half and still get to 141, so going under 65.5 in the first 20 minutes has potential. Or you could take the low-scoring first half and then live-bet a higher-scoring second half to try to win more money. Either option looks solid to me.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Villanova has proven me wrong in back-to-back games, but Baylor is a much stronger foe than what the Wildcats saw in the first two rounds. The Wildcats have done well to get this far without Gillespie, but I just cannot see them hanging with the Baylor guards. I’ll take the Bears to cover this one. STOP betting on games at -110 odds! YOU’RE WASTING YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY! Start laying only -105 today at the web’s best sportsbook: BetAnySports!
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