Chalk It Up With Villanova in NCAA Tournament Opener vs Radford

Villanova Wildcats  player

Rainman M.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 7:03 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018 7:03 PM UTC

No. 2 Villanova, the one seed in the East, battles 16-seeded Radford to face either Virginia Tech or Alabama. The Wildcats are favored by (KP projection of 20). Is it worth laying the heavy chalk?

No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (30-4 SU, 21-12-1 ATS) vs Radford Highlanders (23-12 SU, 8-8 ATS)East Region, Thursday, 6:50 PM ETFree NCAAB Pick: VillanovaBest Line Offered: Pinnacle

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The significance of trends is that they can be predictive of the future. In deciding whether to lay so many points with Villanova, I want to see how they've performed historically against such heavy spreads. This season, as double-digit favorites, Villanova is 14-7 ATS (66.6%). Nova tends to dominate double-digit underdogs in all situations, away from home, even with a strong opponent such as Gonzaga on deck, such as on Dec. 2, when the Wildcats achieved a 41 point victory at St. Josephs before facing the dangerous Zags a few days later. The Wildcats are storming into the tournament with momentum, covering three of their last four, scoring over 80 points in each of those games.

Radford's history against KenPom top 100 schools is woeful, although it's hard to measure exactly how woeful because most of those games didn't have spreads. They have lost each of those four games by double digits and two by over 20.

The match-up suggests that Villanova will dominate and Radford suffers another woeful performance. Nova loves to shoot the three. They have the 17th-highest proportion of three-pointers attempted. They also excel at converting threes, ranking 20th in three-point percentage. Five different Wildcats rank in the top 500 in three-point percentage, two in the top 200. Those two are Mikal Bridges and center Omari Spellman. Bridges, in particular, has been hot, achieving four threes in each of his last three games and converting at least 50% of his threes in his last four games.

The Wildcats will drain plenty of threes against a Radford defense that ranks outside the top 100 in opposing three-point percentage, despite facing a strength of schedule that KenPom ranks outside the top 250, and outside the top 200 in proportion of opposing threes allowed. The Highlanders guard the perimeter poorly and will struggle to contest threes against Nova's variety of three-point champions. Nova is well-known for its team chemistry and ball movement and won't struggle to find good scoring opportunities behind the arc.

The Highlanders also rely primarily on the three-ball for scoring. But they lack Nova's shooting quality, ranking 165th in three-point percentage. They don't have a player who ranks in the top 300 in shooting percentage. One of the two who does has been atrocious against KenPom top-100 competition, going just 2-for-15 from behind the arc against those teams. The Highlanders as a team should struggle against Nova which presents a difficulty with its length. The Wildcats rank 90th in height and will effectively contest the three. They rank 47th in opposing three-point percentage. So Nova can take away Radford's strength on offense.

Nova will also be able to execute its strength on offense, the three-pointer. But it is also the nation's second-most efficient team from inside the arc, boasting five players who rank in the top 500 in two-point percentage and three who rank in the top 300. Point guard Jalen Brunson can score from wherever for Nova but he is also an excellent distributor, ranking in the top 200 in both turnover rate and assist rate. He has been a major asset in Nova's decimation of low-ranked teams. The future NBA prospect does not shy away from giving a great performance where he can.

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The Wildcats have too much quality on both sides of the ball, but also a proven track record as large favorites and a favorable match-up. Bettors should trust them with heavy chalk on our NCAAB Picks.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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