Houston (32-5) vs Villanova (29-7)
When: Saturday, March 26th 2022
Where: AT&T Center,
San Antonio, TX
Time: 6:09 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Houston -2/129
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We are down to the Elite Eight on Saturday with two games on the board including the Houston Cougars vs. Villanova Wildcats from San Antonio. The winner will play either Duke or Arkansas in the Final Four on April 2 in New Orleans. This will be Houston’s second consecutive appearance in the Elite Eight after beating UAB and Illinois in the first two rounds before knocking off No. 1 Arizona in the Sweet 16. Houston is a 2-point favorite in this contest with a total of 128.5. Houston has covered the spread in all three games of the tournament up to this point, extending their streak to six straight covers. They are 25-12 ATS for the year and 9-1 ATS over their last 10 games. The Cougars have scored at least 66 points in all of their games this season, but the Under has cashed in eight of their last 10 overall because of solid defense.
This is the furthest Villanova has gone since winning the national championship in 2018 and have reached the Elite Eight for the third time in the past six tournaments. The Wildcats have had little trouble in getting to this point, beating Delaware, Ohio State and Michigan. Villanova has covered in their first three tournament games as well, bumping them to 19-15-2 ATS for the season. They are currently riding an eight-game win streak and they’re a perfect 10-0 in their last 10 games against AAC opponents. The total has gone Under in five of the Wildcats’ last six games, including two of three in this tournament. Keep in mind, these two teams score an average 146.2 points per game, well over the current total of 128.5.
The Cougars led wire-to-wire against the top-seeded Wildcats on Thursday and were led by Jamal Shead and Kyler Edwards in the mild upset. Edwards, who averages a team-high 14.1 points per game, put up 19 points and hit five three-pointers against Arizona, including a clutch bucket with 1:26 remaining. Shead finished with a game-high 21 points and averages a team-high 5.9 assists. Through three tournament games, Shead is averaging 17.3 points and 5.3 assists, while Edwards is putting up just under 20 points per game. Houston is holding opponents to just 43.6 percent shooting in effective field goal percentage. Arizona came within a bucket of the lead twice, but Houston responded each time while holding Arizona to 33.3 percent shooting for the game. Arizona scored 25 points below its season average.
Jermaine Samuels came through for Villanova on Thursday, scoring a game-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while also nailed all five of his free throw attempts. The Wildcats are the best free throw shooting team in the nation, hitting 82.6 percent of their chances. Samuels is averaging 18 points through three tournament games, while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point territory. Collin Gillespie had 12 points against Michigan and averages a team-high 15.9 ppg for the season. Gillespie banged his knee in the final minute of the game, but should be able to go on Saturday.
Both of these teams are deserving of a Final Four ticket, but only one can go. I’ll give the edge to Houston, who led wire-to-wire against Arizona. They have a chip on their shoulder for being under-seeded and play terrific defense. This should be a great game.
Pick: Houston -2
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