Finally had a big night in the NCAA Tournament with St. Peter's cashing on the moneyline and Miami cruising to a win over Iowa State. A few UCLA defensive rebounds would've put me 4-0 against the spread (ATS).
Now we head to the Elite Eight with a pair of marquee matchups on Saturday night's slate with the Houston Cougars, who are being rated as the best team remaining in the tournament field, taking on Villanova and Duke looking to close out Coach Mike Krzyzewski's career with a Final Four berth, which relies on beating Arkansas in the regional final.
Here are my best bets for Saturday's card, with odds from WynnBET Sportsbook:
Column Record: 118-127-3 (-12.3 units)
Houston (-140) vs. Villanova
This matchup pits two excellent teams and the margin is thin. Both teams are bottom 20 in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom, but these two teams are awesome. All four units inside the top 25 in adjusted efficiency.
Each team is elite on both ends and have strengths that can be the difference in advancing to the Final Four. Houston is the elite offensive rebounding unit, third in the country in OREB% this season, and have exceeded their season average in wins over Illinois and Arizona. Villanova is good at forcing teams out along the perimeter with their matchup zone, but they aren't all that great at cleaning the glass, 196th in the nation in DREB%.
Nova forces team out along the perimeter which can be problematic for the Cougars, who are outside the top 100 in 3-point percentage. However, the team excels at simply taking more shots than you and dominating ball possession, which they can do against a middling defensive rebounding team.
On the other side, Villanova is a fantastic shooting team. Five guys that play significant minutes shoot over 33% from beyond the arc and the team is stellar at protecting the ball (28th in TO rate). The Cougars shut off the paint for opponents and Nova is happy to oblige, posting the 17th highest 3-point attempt rate in the country, but I worry that in a limited possession battle they won't get enough looks to win this one.
For now I will lean towards Houston's defense and offensive rebounding generating enough offense to win a game played in the 60's to go to the Final Four.
Also, it's worth keeping an eye on Villanova's star guard Collin Gillespie, who injured is knee at the end of the team's Sweet 16 victory over Michigan. I expect him to play, but if he's not 100%, he will be exploited.
As I alluded to earlier, this is going to be a low possession affair, which leads me to the under. Considering teams foul at the end of games in the tournament moreso than others, I'll split first half and full game for a half unit each.
LEAN: Houston ML -140, 1H Under 59.5 0.5 Units, Under 128 0.5 Units
For picks and analysis on the Sweet Sixteen and reaction to the NFL offseason, check out Bet & Breakfast below!