Tracking the Wildcats: March Madness Picks and Handicapping for Villanova
by Dave Schwab - 3/20/2015
After covering Big East basketball for Doc's Sports all season long, I have decided to turn my handicapping efforts towards the Villanova Wildcats drive towards a National Championship. I had to settle for a "push" on the total in their first game this past Thursday, but I have a really good feeling about cashing in on my pick for this Saturday's matchup against North Carolina State.
Doc's will post these free game picks on their homepage along with my recommended unit play using its Unit Betting System, 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.
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Villanova Wildcats Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Saturday, March 21, 6:50 p.m. EST (CONSOL Energy Center)
The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats roll into the third round of this year's NCAA Tournament to face the No. 8 North Carolina State Wolfpack this Saturday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Tipoff for this Big East/ACC clash in the East Region is set for 7:10 p.m. (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on TBS.
The Wolfpack survived a 66-65 battle against No. 9 LSU in their tournament opener this past Thursday as two-point favorites. This followed a lopsided 77-53 loss to Duke in last week's ACC Tournament as 8.5-point underdogs. They are now 4-2 straight up in their last six games while going 3-3 against the spread. The total has stayed "under" in three of their last four games.
Villanova cruised to a 93-52 romp over No. 16 Lafayette in its tournament opener while covering a large 22-point spread. The total ended as a push on a closing line of 145. This extended the Wildcats current SU winning streak to 16 games while going a highly-profitable 14-2 ATS. The total had stayed under in their previous three games.
NC State vs. Villanova Betting Storylines
North Carolina State dug itself into a 14-point hole at halftime of Thursday's game against LSU, but it was able to close that gap when the Tigers' shooting went ice cold down the stretch. The Wolfpack shot 42.4 percent from the field, and they only connected on 5-of-24 shots from 3-point range. On the year, they are averaging 70.4 points per game while hitting 43.7 percent of their shots from the floor.
Sophomore guard Anthony Barber led NC State with 17 points, but freshman forward Abdul-Malik Abu came up huge with 13 points while hitting 5-of-7 shots from the field. The hero of the game was sophomore forward Beejay Anya, who scored the game winner with a tip-in right before the final buzzer. Junior guard Trevor Lacey has led the Wolfpack in scoring this season with 15.6 PPG, but he was held to just nine points while shooting 4-for-15 from the field.
The Wildcats barely broke a sweat in their tournament opener in what amounted to be a brisk workout against the overmatched Leopards. They opened up a 48-26 lead at the half and outscored Lafayette by another 18 points from there. Villanova shot an impressive 63.2 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. The only minor chink in the armor was a 10-for-15 effort from the free-throw line.
All five Wildcat starters scored in double-figures, led by junior guard Dylan Ennis's 16 points. Villanova's leading scorer this season has been senior guard Darrun Hilliard II (13.9), and he ended the night with 12 points while shooting 6-for-8 from the field. Junior forward Daniel Ochefu just missed out on a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. On the year, the Wildcats are averaging 76.3 PPG while shooting 47 percent from the field. Defensively, they are holding teams to 60.6 points a game.
NC State vs. Villanova NCAAB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has listed Villanova as a nine-point favorite for Saturday's clash against the Wolfpack, and the total for this game has been set at 147.
The Wolfpack have failed to cover in six of their last eight nonconference games, and they are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games played at a neutral site. The total has stayed under in 10 of their last 12 NCAA Tournament games.
The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last eight neutral-site games, but they have failed to cover in six of their last eight games in the NCAA Tournament. The total has stayed under in five of their last eight tournament games.
These two met once before in 2007, with NC State squeezing out a 69-68 victory as three-point road underdogs. The total went over the 134-point line in that game.
NC State vs. Villanova Free NCAAB Picks and Betting Predictions
I do not want to say that NC State backed into Thursday's victory, because a win is a win in a single-elimination tournament, but its game is not going to hold up against a Villanova squad that has been playing at a very high level since late January. Lay the nine points and take the Wildcats to cover on their way to the Sweet 16.
3-Unit Play-Take Villanova (-9) over NC State.
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