Villanova (18-6) vs Baylor (24-2)
When: Saturday, March 27th, 2021
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse,
Time: 5:15 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Baylor -6/133.5
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Everyone wrote off the Villanova Wildcats after they lost co-Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie to a torn MCL, but the team has responded in a big way and are out to prove the doubters wrong. Villanova takes to the court on Saturday in a Sweet 16 contest against No. 1 seed Baylor at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Wildcats have easily won the first two games of the NCAA Tournament, beating Winthrop and North Texas while covering a 6-point spread in each. Villanova is in the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in the last 20 seasons following a dominating 84-61 win over the Mean Green in the second round. Head coach Jay Wright has won two national championships and holds a 30-12 overall mark in the NCAA Tournament with Villanova. Baylor comes in with a couple of impressive wins as well, beating 16th-seeded Hartford 79-55 and ninth-seeded Wisconsin 76-63. This will be Baylor’s fifth Sweet 16 appearance in the last 12 years and its first since 2017. The betting public is all over the Bears in this one with 71 percent of the early betting handle, while the total has gone up from 133.5 to 140.5. Baylor has topped the total in 12 of its last 14 and two of Villanova’s last three have played over.
Villanova looks like a completely different team from the club that struggled down the stretch of Big East play. Part of the resurgence is the three-point shot and taking care of the basketball. In the win over North Texas, the Wildcats turned it over just six times and hit 15-of-30 from beyond the arc. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the team with 18 points and six assists and three others chipped in with at least 10 points. Villanova is 9-1 when making 10 triples this season. They have made 22 threes on 35 attempts in the two games thus far and are holding their opponents to only 38.2 percent shooting from the field. Villanova is 3-0-1 against the spread in its last four games as the underdog.
The Bears are lighting it up from beyond the arc as well, hitting better than 40 percent of those shots in each of their last seven games. They pressured the Badgers into 15 turnovers in the second round and the team can score in a lot of different ways with their deep bench. Matthew Mayer came off the bench to score a team-leading 17 points against Wisconsin in just 24 minutes, while Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell added 16 apiece. Baylor is third in adjusted offensive efficiency with 122.8 points per 100 possessions and finished the regular season seventh in the nation with 9.1 steals per game. Baylor is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games in neutral sites.
Villanova is relishing the roll of the underdog in this tournament and still have enough depth to hang with Baylor. The Bears are clearly the better team and should win this game, but the Wildcats’ ability to drain the three will keep this one close.
Pick: Villanova +7
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