Villanova Wildcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers Pick
Villanova Wildcats (26-9 SU, 21-14 ATS) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (24-9 SU, 18-14-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, March 23, 2019 – 8:40 p.m. ET
Where: XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Point Spread: NOVA +4 / PUR -4 (5Dimes)
Total: O/U 137
Last Time Out: Villanova beat St. Mary’s 61-57; Purdue beat Old Dominion 61-48
Scouting the Wildcats:
The Wildcats may not be the same team they were last year when they won the title, but they still managed to win the Big East and are still a threat to make a run based on their veteran team alone. The Wildcats are a 6-seed this year, which is much worse than they are used to, but regardless they won in the first round and will be looking to reach the Sweet 16 once again.
Scouting the Boilermakers:
Purdue comes into this game having not won their conference and have posted a worse record than Villanova, but still managed to secure a 3-seed. This may have to do with the fact that they have Carsen Edwards, who has put on a show all year long. The leading scorer for the Boilermakers is also one of the best point guards in the country, which may have helped their seeding in the committees’ eyes. The Boilermakers held off a pesky Old Dominion team in the round of 64 but will certainly need to improve their game if they are going to defeat the defending champs.
Head to Head:
These teams have had two meetings in recent years, one coming in 2012 and the other coming in 2016. Villanova won both games.
Notable Betting Trends:
Villanova holds a slight lead in recent games against the spread, going 5-5 in their last 10, whereas Purdue has gone 4-5-1. The Wildcats have also gone 5-0 against the spread when they open as an underdog. Purdue has failed to cover as a favorite in 11 of 27 games and post a record of 16-11. Both teams had very low scoring games in their opening round, which leads to a trend that shows Villanova is 6-3 on the season when scoring between 55 and 70. Purdue is 2-5 in the same category.
Villanova Will Cover the Spread If:
They get to the free-throw line more often. They reached the line just 9 times against the Gaels, and even then, they shot 5 of 9 or 55.6%. With a guy like Eric Paschall in the low post, the Wildcats need to feed the senior on the low block and either force a double-team which will create open shots or force the Boilermakers into foul trouble. Another obvious key to this game, but also an important one is Villanova must knock down the three. They are 35.4% as a team this year, which only ranks 126th in the country, but when you have six guys who shoot 34% or higher from three, someone is bound to get hot at some point.
Purdue Will Cover the Spread If:
Someone other than Carsen Edwards can get involved and have a meaningful scoring outing. They got away with only two players scoring 10+ points in the St. Mary’s game, but against Villanova, they will need at least two or three guys in double-digits. Throughout the season, Purdue had just two guys average more than 10 points per game, that being Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline. Cline had a horrible game against Old Dominion, scoring only 5 points on 2 of 12 shooting and 1 of 11 from the three-point line. Look for this to be the guy that steps up behind Edwards and bounces back considerably. Another guy who needs to have a significant impact in this game is the big man, Matt Haarms. He is 3rd on the team in points scored, averaging 9.2, but only is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game. The Boilermakers have overall struggled on the boards this year, averaging 37.1 per game and ranking 88th in the country. They were even out-rebounded by the Monarchs, so this is another area they must improve.
Matt’s Pick for Villanova vs. Purdue:
While Purdue may appear to be the better team on paper, Villanova is still the defending champions. Bookmaker has the Wildcats as a 4-point dog, and I like them to show the rest of the teams in the field that they still are a team to be feared in this tournament. Take Villanova and the points in this round of 32 game.