March Madness Odds & Preview — West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Villanova Wildcats

The West Virginia Mountaineers have been pretty impressive thus far as they have rolled through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Now they run into their most challenging test as they face off against the Villanova Wildcats in a Sweet Sixteen game that is set to begin at 7:27 PM ET at the TD Garden in Boston. Please remember that if you are a BetAnySports customer, you not only get reduced juice on your wagers beforehand, you can also keep the action going after the opening tip, with the technology offered through Live Betting Ultra.
West Virginia carries a 26-10 record into the proceedings, and they have won easily against both Murray State and Marshall, forcing a total of 34 turnovers in those games. Many people thought Marshall, from within the same state, might be able to give them a tussle, but Jon Elmore, their top scorer, was rendered completely ineffective, mostly by Jevon Carter, the Mountaineers’ All-American guard, who is one of the best defenders in the country. So the question as we enter this game is whether “Press Virginia” will be able to exert sufficient pressure to take Villanova out of its game.
The Mountaineers have a win over Virginia, a former #1 team, on its resume, but these Wildcats are a different breed, because they score – a lot. In fact, they average more points per game than anyone in the country. And in their own All-American, Jalen Brunson, they have someone who could be quite the match for Carter.
Villanova has lost only three times – to Butler, St. John’s and Providence – and they pose an interesting challenge here because not only do they shoot two-pointers and three-pointers almost equally well, they also know how to take care of the ball, and part of beating WVU is in beating their press.
In the March Madness odds that BetAnySports has posted on this game, Villanova is the favorite:
Villanova Wildcats  -5
West Virginia Mountaineers  +5
Over 152.5 points  -110
Under 152.5 points  -110
We can tell you that West Virginia has a chance to take the inside game away, with their “eraser,” Sagaba Konate. We also know that they can apply pressure. However, a considerable question exists as to whether they can actually affect Villanova with what they do, especially as there is so much in the way of offensive talent, including Brunson, and enough in the way of ball-handling that the team is 11th-best in the nation in that metric (offensive turnover percentage).
In addition, we are not sold on the idea that West Virginia is going to be able to speed the Wildcats up so much that they will make them take bad shots. Villanova may the highest-scoring team in the nation, but they are only 230th in average possession length, so they know how to work the ball around in the halfcourt, and if you look at their three-point percentage, it is clear that they can find people open on the perimeter. If Bob Huggins’ team has been vulnerable anywhere on the defensive end, it’s been in their ability to stop three-point shots. And there is no question that Villanova can extend any leads with its three-point and free throw shooting. And because Jay Wright’s team has been more consistent, we’re okay laying the points here.
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