Villanova Wildcats vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Pick 11/13/19
Villanova Wildcats (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
When: Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 7 PM ET
Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Point Spread: VILL +2.5/OHST -2.5 (5Dimes) Total: O/U 146.5
Last Time Out:
Villanova routed Army 97-54 on Nov. 5; Ohio State defeated Massachusetts-Lowell 76-56 on Sunday.
Scouting the Wildcats:
If nothing else, Villanova is off to a better start than it got a year ago when it got exposed by Michigan and then surprised by Furman. But this year’s Wildcats look a lot more assertive than last year’s version. Far too often, the 2018-19 Wildcats stood around waiting for Eric Paschall or Phil Booth to take over the game, with Colin Gillespie serving as an occasional third scoring option. If any part of that three-legged stool collapsed at any point, the Wildcats were rather easy to defeat.
That doesn’t seem to be the case this time around. Freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl showed no qualms about taking control of the game against the Black Knights, scoring 24 points and getting some quality help from returnee Saddiq Bey, who added 22. If those two can get themselves in a groove early, Villanova could return to being competitive for a national title this season.
Scouting the Buckeyes:
On the one hand, Ohio State is 2-0, and the Buckeyes have done the job by playing excellent defense. Per KenPom, the Buckeyes rank seventh in the nation in defensive efficiency in this young season. But the bad news is that Ohio State is not exactly getting off to great starts or getting into a stride on offense. The Buckeyes went through two early scoreless stretches against both Cincinnati and Umass-Lowell. While they eventually righted the ship and did enough to get the victories, they’re well aware that they can’t continue to count on the defense to bail out the offense. Rather, the defense needs to work in conjunction with the offense, and that means that they need to get the ball in Kaleb Wesson’s hands early and often. Wesson has averaged a double-double through the first two games and serves as Ohio State’s most reliable post option. He’s a quick, powerful power forward, and Villanova doesn’t have anyone ready to serve as an answer to him.
Rest vs. rust. Will Villanova be ready to get back to work after what’s essentially a soft reset of its schedule? The Wildcats only played on opening night and then went back into the practice gym for the past week, while other teams were getting two or three games under their belts. Will the rest and extra work in the gym have paid off for Villanova, or will it set them back further compared to a team like Ohio State, which has gotten itself on a schedule more like what it will see in league play?
Villanova will Cover if:
The Wildcats can hold their own on the glass. Yes, Villanova grabbed 54 rebounds against Army. But ignore that for two reasons. First, Villanova had the size advantage over Army for obvious reasons. Second, Army shot 31 percent from the floor, a lousy percentage that ensures lots of rebounds are up for grabs. Boards will be much harder to come by against the Buckeyes, and because both of these teams like a slower tempo, boards and possessions are precious in this game. If Villanova can keep the rebounding margin close, it’s going to be in a good position to win.
Ohio State will Cover if:
The Buckeyes can force the Wildcats into mistakes. Army is not a great defensive squad by any means, but the Black Knights did force Villanova into 17 turnovers in the opener. Wildcats coach Jay Wright called his team sloppy after that performance, and a repeat could lead to a lot of easy buckets for Ohio State heading the other direction. One thing is for sure: Villanova cannot expect mistakes to go unpunished against the Buckeyes the way they were against the Black Knights.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
I like the direction Villanova is heading in. Jay Wright is one of the best coaches in college basketball, and I think, in the long run, taking some extra time to teach his guys in practice as opposed to in a game situation will help Villanova.
But we’re not betting in the long run. We’re betting on the here and now against Ohio State on Wednesday, and I think the Buckeyes are a little more advanced than the Wildcats are at the moment. They’re playing at home, they’re a talented squad in their own right, and I think they’ve got a little too much for Villanova to deal with at this point in time.
If you asked me to make this pick in January, I think I’d have a different answer. But for this game on Nov. 13, I’m going with Ohio State for the cover.
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