Tracking the Wildcats: March Madness Picks and Handicapping for Villanova
by Dave Schwab - 3/17/2015
I have been covering Big East basketball for Doc's Sports all season long, and, to take the concept of specialization to the next level, I will be handicapping the Villanova Wildcats in their quest for a national title as the No. 1 seed in the East Region of this year's NCAA Tournament. I will be releasing my picks for the games with the use of Doc's Unit Betting System.
Doc's will post these free game picks on their homepage, so be sure to check the site to follow along with my progress. The Wildcats have what it takes to make a very deep run in this year's Big Dance, and my goal is to generate a big payday with these free picks during the ride.
Villanova Wildcats Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Thursday, March 19, 6:50 p.m. EST (CONSOL Energy Center)
The Villanova Wildcats will begin their pursuit of a National Championship this Thursday night with a matchup against the No. 16 seed Lafayette Leopards, out of the Patriot League. Tipoff is from the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh is set for 6:50 p.m. (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on TBS.
Lafayette punched its ticket to this season's Big Dance with a solid run through this season's Patriot League Tournament that ended with a 65-63 victory against American in the title game as a four-point favorite. The biggest win in that run was an 80-74 victory against Bucknell in the semifinals as a three-point underdog.
The Wildcats turned up the heat down the stretch with a straight up 15-game winning streak that included a highly-profitable 13-2 record against the spread. They added a Big East Tournament title to their regular-season crown with a convincing 69-52 victory over Xavier in the Championship this past Saturday as 7.5-point favorites. The total has stayed "under" in their last three games.
Lafayette vs. Villanova Betting Storylines
Lafayette was a mid-level team in conference play this season at 9-9, but it did manage to post the best overall record of any team in the Patriot League this season at 20-12. One of its keys to success is the ability to put points on the board. The Leopards are ranked 34th in the nation in scoring with an average of 74.2 points per game, and they are shooting a solid 48.8 percent from the field, which is ranked eighth. The main issue has been a defense that is allowing an average of 72.6 points a game to its opponents.
Senior forward Dan Trist has been a force with 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. He scored 21 points in that crucial win against Bucknell, and he put up 24 points in a season-ending victory against Army on Feb. 28. Seth Hinrichs and Nick Lindner are each averaging around 13 PPG while shooting close to 40 percent from 3-point range. Lindner led all scorers with 25 points in last Wednesday's win over American.
The Wildcats have been playing at a very high level since late January, and looking back at their current winning streak, 11 of those 15 victories have been by double-digits. Villanova did survive a close call in the semifinals last week with a tight 63-61 win against Providence as an 8.5-point favorite, but overall it has been an excellent bet as a favorite this season with a 24-10 record ATS. It has covered ATS in its last four games as a favorite of 10 points or more.
This is another team that knows how to light up a scoreboard with an average of 76.3 PPG. The Wildcats are shooting 47 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Darrun Hilliard II has been the team's leading scorer this season with 14 PPG, but it was sophomore guard Josh Hart that came up big in the Big East Tournament with an average of 17.7 points in the three-game run to the title.
BetOnline has listed Villanova as a prohibitive 22.5-point favorite for Thursday's tournament opener, and the total for this game has been set at 147.
The Leopards are an even 2-2 ATS this season in four games with posted betting odds, including a 2-1 run ATS in the Patriot League Tournament. The total went over in two of those three games.
The Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games, but they have failed to cover in six of their last seven games in the NCAA Tournament. The total has stayed under in six of their last seven games played at a neutral site.
These two teams have met twice in the last five seasons, with Villanova winning both games by a double-digit margin. There were no posted betting odds for either game.
Lafayette vs. Villanova Free NCAAB Picks and Betting Predictions
Villanova has had its share of issues in the NCAA Tournament over the years, especially when it comes to covering ATS, but it brings a ton of momentum into this year's event by playing some of its best ball of the season. I am still a bit leery about laying so many points in this matchup, but I love the betting odds on the total. Both these teams know how to put points on the board, and I am banking on the total in this one going "over" the 147-point line.
3-Unit Play-Take Lafayette vs. Villanova OVER 147
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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